Oklahoma has 15th highest rate of gonorrhea


Thursday, November 10th 2005, 11:22 am
By: News On 6


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma had the 15th-highest rate of gonorrhea in the nation in 2004, although the number of cases of the sexually transmitted disease have been falling in the state, health officials said.

The number of cases fell about 2 percent last year and there has been an 8 percent drop since 2001, said Michael Harmon, chief of HIV and STD Services for the state Health Department. Also, Oklahoma's increased efforts to find and treat partners of infected patients likely affects the state's rankings, health officials said.

The ranking was included in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report "Trends in Reportable Sexually Transmitted Diseases in the United States, 2004." The national syphilis rate grew the fourth year in a row, while chlamydia rates rose and gonorrhea rates hit a record low.

About 127 in every 100,000 Oklahomans were diagnosed with gonorrhea in 2004, with more than 4,400 cases reported. The national average is 113 infected per 100,000.

Oklahoma was 29th in chlamydia cases, 36th in primary and secondary syphilis and 24th in congenital syphilis.

A $1.4 million CDC grant received this year is being used for prevention efforts, but targeted messages are needed for sexually active youths, Harmon said.

About 40 percent of Oklahoma chlamydia cases are found in people ages 10 through 19, he said.

"So the question becomes: How do we in public health reduce the number of unintended pregnancies as well as these STDs?" he said.

At the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, testing, education and outreach programs are available to help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, nurse Karen Gillispie said.

In addition to taking samples, nurses talk to patients about safe sex, disease risks, treatment options, symptoms and how the disease is spread, she said. A $5 fee includes tests for sexually transmitted diseases.

Other education efforts include condom distribution, ads and guest speakers, spokesman H.R. Holman said.

Adolfo Morales, HIV-AIDS prevention coordinator for the Latino Community Development Agency, is using a $61,000 state Health Department grant to supplement its growing HIV and sexually transmitted diseases clinic. It pays for two outreach workers, testing supplies and educational materials, he said.