Utah: Higher Depression, STDs in Minorities
December 11, 2009
Ethnic minorities in Utah have a higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases and a host of other health challenges. But even as they debate the precise cause of these issues, public health officials are moving to link Utah's minority populations with services that address them.
In recent reports from the Utah Department of Health and the Center for Multicultural Health, the rate of chlamydia was higher among all of the state's racial and ethnic minorities than among the general population. The gonorrhea rate was higher than average for African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics.
The trends are particularly troubling among Hispanics, who at 12 percent constitute the state's largest single minority.
Public health officials say they are not certain of the reason for the disproportionate impact of STDs among the state's minorities. One possibility is that STDs are carried from other countries where prevalence is higher, said April Bennett, multicultural health specialist with the Utah Department of Health.
At the same time, Bennett notes that the rate of STDs has been rising in Utah's population overall for the previous 15 years.
State officials this year ramped up a public awareness campaign to address STDs, particularly among Hispanics. The number of chlamydia cases among adults 15 to 29 rose 50 percent in the previous five years, while the number of gonorrhea cases doubled.
The recent reports also document that Hispanics in Utah suffer more than the average Utahn from depression (8.2 percent), lack of health insurance coverage (27.6 percent), and lack of a regular source of medical care (18.5 percent).
Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)
12.02.2009; Carrie A. Moore