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U.S. News

Illinois: Steamy TV, No Discussion Lead to More STDs

July 31, 2009

Each year in Illinois, state-funded public health clinics screen more than 170,000 people for STDs, according to Charlie Rabins, chief of the STD program at the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). New cases of chlamydia in Illinois reached an all-time high in 2008 -- 59,169.

"Popular culture glamorizes sex. There are very few prevention messages," Rabins said. In addition, he said, "Abstinence-only [sex education] is not effective. Ultimately, there needs to be a lot more education in the schools."

For every case of chlamydia or gonorrhea that is diagnosed, reported and treated, Rabins said at least two more cases go unreported.

Finding and treating these undiagnosed cases is the aim of SB 212, a bill now awaiting the signature of Gov. Pat Quinn. The measure would permit expedited partner therapy, in which health care professionals give patients with chlamydia or gonorrhea single-dose antibiotics to treat their sex partners. Fifteen states already have such laws.

Don Hunt, director of adult and laboratory services for the Sangamon County Department of Public Health, said technology -- in the form of the Internet and sexual text messages, or "sexting" -- is leading to more casual sex. "Sex has been the 'first date" for a long time, but technology has given people greater access than before," he said.

Rabins and Hunt said that while most people with STDs are diagnosed by their private doctors, all too often STD tests are not part of regular check-ups. Rabins said IDPH is working to get more medical professionals to talk with their patients about the diseases.

Back to other news for July 2009

Adapted from:
State Journal-Register (Springfield)
07.27.2009; Dean Olsen

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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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