New Hampshire STD Infection Rates on Rise
February 17, 2006
From 2000 to 2004, reports of chlamydia and mucopurulent cervicitis, inflammation of the cervix, rose statewide, according to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. However, rates of gonorrhea and pelvic inflammatory disease either decreased slightly or remained flat. These trends were mirrored among people ages 15-19. A recent House education committee heard different theories for possible explanations.
An expansion in screening probably led to more chlamydia reports, said Mary Bubnis, a state HIV/health education consultant. In 2002, state data indicated only 2,290 teens were tested for chlamydia, compared to 12,110 teens in 2004. In addition, the number of STD testing sites targeting women expanded from eight to 18 as part of the state's campaign to address infertility, said Lisa Bunjo, chief of the New Hampshire Bureau of Community Health Services.
Rep. Michael Balboni (R-Nashua) said the increases are "alarming" and that school-based sex education is inadequate. A bill he is sponsoring would require an investigation of STD/HIV education efficacy at each grade in districts across the state by the end of the year. State education leaders are required to do that by law, but have failed to do so since 1993, he said.
The Department of Education would need $500,000 for such a study, and an additional $75,000 annually thereafter to continue it, said Virginia Irwin, director of the state Division of Instruction, which oversees health education. She said assessments of teen sexual behavior and sex education curricula are already being adequately performed under surveys funded by CDC.
The state is "guilty of not teaching abstinence education," which is why STDs are increasing, said Dan Hogan, a Nashua abstinence educator.
Sex education curricula are largely determined by local school districts.
02.15.2006; Melanie Asmar
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.