March 22, 2012
Local STD cases have declined somewhat, although the infection rate among persons younger than 25 is rising, Tarrant County health officials announced Tuesday.
Mark Wilson, manager of the county's adult health services programs, noted in his briefing to county commissioners that in 2011, 73 percent of the county's 7,792 reported chlamydia cases involved people under 25. "That spells a problem," said Wilson.
"The fear that lived in everyone for STDs and HIV back in the 1990s and early 2000s doesn't exist today," Wilson said. "We need to get them informed as quickly as possible."
Health department efforts include increased outreach to youth via the Community Pride HIV/STD Prevention Education Program, which was established in November 2010 by County Commissioner Roy Brooks. Wilson said Community Pride trains leaders to deliver HIV/STD information in after-school programs and other venues where youths gather. Since the program's inception, 150 such leaders have been trained.
"The Pride program is actually getting to that group we haven't reached," said Wilson. "And that's getting the message out there." Although optimistic moving forward, he acknowledges that realizing results "takes time."
"Overall for 2011, we're in better shape than we were in 2010," said Wilson. "In 2010, there was a spike in syphilis and HIV in both Dallas and Tarrant County and we worked really hard to bring that down to a level that's not really acceptable, but we are better than we were."