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U.S. News

Louisiana Has Top Rate of Syphilis; It Ranks 2 and 3 in Other Sexual Diseases

November 10, 2005

CDC data released Tuesday indicate that Louisiana logged the nation's highest rate of syphilis last year, the second-highest rate of gonorrhea and the third-highest rate of chlamydia.

In 2004, Louisiana's syphilis rate was 7.4 cases per 100,000 people, compared to 2.7 nationally. The state had 234.4 gonorrhea cases per 100,000 people, compared to 113.5 nationally. Louisiana's chlamydia rate was 485.7 cases per 100,000 people, compared to 319.6 nationally.

"It's an economic phenomenon; it's a sociological phenomenon," said Patricia Kissinger, an epidemiologist at Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. "It'll be grim in Louisiana until we start getting people to have protected sex.… It's hard to change people's behavior."

"The numbers have been high because we haven't been able to do the things we need to do to intervene," said Sharon Howard, director of the state Office of Public Health. The $2 million a year the state allocates to fighting the diseases has remained "pretty static," she said. "If you have the same funding but your needs continue to increase, your rates are going to increase because you don't have enough resources to get ahead of the problem," Howard said.

Making matters worse are a hiring freeze and hurricane evacuees who did not return. Howard said her office has lost five disease intervention specialists who were responsible for educating people and tracing contacts. "These are your warriors that are put on the ground that can make a difference," Howard said.

Back to other news for November 10, 2005

Adapted from:
Times-Picayune (New Orleans)
11.09.2005; John Pope

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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.
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