August 12, 2003
In the first half of the year, 885 cases of chlamydia were reported, up from 654 in the same time period last year. From April to June, the increase was 45 percent more than last year.
According to Fort Wayne-Allen County Health Department Director Kathryn Thornson, the clinic, which cares for many uninsured patients, has been overwhelmed because of the increased number of chlamydia cases and because of the economy.
The rise in diagnosed cases concerns Linda Hathaway, program manager at the McMillen Health Education Center. She fears that many people who have one STD often have several, thus potentially allowing the diseases to continue to spread. "If they're having sexual contact with other people, they're probably passing more than one," said Hathaway. "If they've got more than one in their body, it makes them more susceptible to others as well," she noted.
Hathaway, a member of a countywide task force on STDs, believes the solution lies in educating the entire community about the risk of STDs and creating a comfortable environment that empowers teenagers to make safe decisions.