ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - St. Louis tops the charts but its bad news: STL is #1 in an STD, sexually transmitted disease.
Doctors told FOX 2 it was time to stop pretending there was no problem in St. Louis; time to start talking and testing.
Search hard enough and you can find videos and podcasts about STD prevention on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.
There are pamphlets at infectious disease doctors’ offices.
But if you’re getting the message there, more than likely it’s already too late.
“Prevention messages are super important. The more times people hear it, the more likely they are to take it to heart,” said Dr. Hilary Reno, MD-PhD, a Washington University Infectious Disease physician.
The just released statistics from the CDC (2013) are perhaps this is the ultimate prevention message: St. Louis City leads the country with nearly 1,300 cases of chlamydia infection per 100,000 people.
St. Louis City ranked 2nd in gonorrhea infection, with 551 cases per 100,000 people, and 9th in syphilis with 19 cases per 100,000 people.
St. Louis City has consistently been in the top five for a decade.
A man and woman who just moved here that just moved here from Pensacola, Florida, said education was key.
Billboards went up after a spike in syphilis cases there.
“The syphilis billboards in Pensacola have brought down the number of people who have syphilis. It’s bringing awareness to it. People are getting tested,” said Jamie Nutt.
“Stuff like Facebook, you know,” said her friend, John Wetzel, visiting from Wisconsin. “People are on their phones all the time. If there was more helpful messages, stuff that reaches out to people…I think social media would make a difference.”
“People who live in the region, not everybody understands that our rates are high. That means it’s a personal risk to them,” said Dr. Reno. “Knowing if your partner has ever been tested for STD’s can help protect yourself. So people need to have that conversation…those messages need to be consistently given and patients need to hear them. They need places to go to be tested.”
There are those places, like public health clinics and The SPOT (Supporting Positive Opportunities with Teens) in the Central West End (4169 Laclede), which caters to young people. Testing is confidential and often free. Doctors say these three infections are curable and most people don’t know they have them; you don’t have to be promiscuous to become infected, so don’t be stigmatized. Get tested.