STDs on the Rise in Sioux Falls
"Certainly, it is a sensitive topic, but it warrants the community’s attention,” Dr. Jennifer Tinguely, Chief Medical Officer for the Sioux Falls Health Department said in a statement.
According to statistics from the South Dakota Department of Health, the Sioux Falls area saw a record number of sexually transmitted infections in 2016. There were 376 diagnosed cases of gonorrhea, a number that has nearly quadrupled since 2011. The Sioux Falls area had 1,225 diagnosed cases of chlamydia, which mirrors national trends.
HIV and syphilis diagnoses were also at record highs, with 38 diagnosed cases of syphilis and 29 diagnosed cases of HIV.
Looking at the numbers for Sioux Falls from the last 10 years, there's been a 172 percent increase in gonorrhea, a 51 percent increase in chlamydia, a 104 percent increase in HIV, and a 280 percent increase in syphilis.
The statistics for 2017 show the city is track for another record year.
“Sexually transmitted infections affect people of all ages, but we see our biggest case numbers in those ages 18 to 39,” Dr. Lon Kightlinger, State Epidemiologist with the South Dakota Department of Health, said in a statement.
About nine out of every ten gonorrhea and chlamydia cases diagnosed in Sioux Falls are in people 18 to 39 years-old.
Health officials say that a number of factors put people at risk:
- A perceived lack of access to screenings
- Concerns about confidentiality
- Social media and the Internet, which has made it easier for people to find anonymous partners.
“We want to increase awareness about STIs among residents and health care workers to ensure people understand the importance of how and where to get screened and what they can do to protect themselves," says Tinguely, "Condom usage is still the most effective method of protecting against sexually transmitted infections and diseases for those who are sexually active.”
To help battle the rise in STDs, health officials are working to increase awareness about infection screenings, especially among young adults. Campaigns like Falls Community Health's Protect Your Parts, which launched in 2015, are encouraging people to rethink outdated stereotypes, challenge myths, and create a movement around education and positive action.
The Protect Your Parts website, protectyourparts.org, is dedicated to locating HIV and STD resources for individuals in and around Sioux Falls. It helps people find information about testing options in the area, there's a map of locations to get free condoms, and an interactive risk quiz.
Falls Community Health in Sioux Falls provides primary health care services and information about HIV, STDs, and screening. The clinic also offers free Rapid HIV and STD Testing on Mondays and Fridays at their downtown location at 521 North Main Avenue in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Source: City of Sioux Falls