February 19, 2014 | Vol.54 N.8

STD numbers growing in Snohomish County, aren't we smarter than that?

I received a press release last week that, if I’m being honest, made my skin crawl a little bit.

I opened the email from the Snohomish County Health District and the title read “Big jump in gonorrhea cases among Snohomish County residents.”

I have to admit I was quite shocked.

The Health District shared the fact that gonorrhea cases have jumped within the county from 168 cases in 2012 to 249 cases in 2013.

That number may not seem like much when you compare it to cases of flu or strep throat, however, in this type of disease the Health District considers this “outbreak levels”.

The Centers for Disease Control says that half of the 20 million cases of gonorrhea in the country are from young people ages 15-24. In the county, one-third of the new cases involve that same age group.

“Gonorrhea is a serious disease,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, Health Officer and Director of the Snohomish Health District, the county’s public health agency. “Fortunately, antibiotic treatment is effective and accessible. However, it is far better to avoid infection in the first place. Take precautions to keep the bacteria from spreading.”

Dr. Goldbaum’s advice should be taken to heart, we should be doing all we can to avoid contracting the disease and to stop it from spreading to others.

I went to High School in the 80s and even then health education classes taught about STDs and how they spread. I know they are also teaching these same things in school today.

Teachers also taught us that abstinence was the only way to keep from getting pregnant but also the only way to avoid any STD, including gonorrhea.

I’m not sure why these numbers continue to rise and neither is the health district but education and just pure common sense seem to be the most obvious solutions.

“Abstinence is the only sure way to prevent sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, but risk can be reduced by consistent and correct use of condoms, partner treatment, and mutual monogamy,” the press release stated.

In a world that promotes promiscuity, I would hope that parents are teaching their children better. An unwanted STD can create health problems for life.

We are an educated community who really should know better and we shouldn’t be afraid to talk to our kids about the risks of sex, both physical and emotional.

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