May 5, 2010
The region -- composed of Monroe, Livingston, Wayne, Ontario, Yates, and Seneca counties -- has a chlamydia rate of 407 cases per 100,000 population, compared with a state rate of 369 per 100,000. The Finger Lakes' gonorrhea rate among those ages 15-19 was 548 cases per 100,000, compared with 314 for teens statewide, the report said, citing three-year average data from the New York State Community Health Data Set-2007. The report examined the 39 upstate counties that are part of Excellus' service area.
Finger Lakes also was highest among upstate regions for rates of HIV (9.5 per 100,000), AIDS (9.3), and syphilis (2.1), though these figures were below the corresponding state rates. A chief concern is that STD infections help facilitate HIV transmission.
Dr. Marybeth McCall, chief medical officer for Excellus, said the report should serve to start conversations between teens and their parents about safe sex and sexual health. "We have to be able to talk about risk, to talk about infections, to talk about symptoms, to have our children seek care," she said.
The region has a history of high STD rates: A 2006 CDC STD Surveillance report showed the Rochester metropolitan area was the highest in the nation for gonorrhea and chlamydia. A 2008 CDC report ranked the city ninth for chlamydia and 27th for gonorrhea.
A large number of college students in the area and the frequency of travel between Rochester and New York City may be reasons for the high rates.
STD education, testing, and treatment are essential, particularly for young people, "who don't think about themselves as having any susceptibility to disease," said McCall.