Department promotes STD awareness
Published 7:47 pm Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Joins national effort to prevent specific diseases
By DAN PARSONS
This month, the Beaufort County Health Department is focusing some of its efforts on safe-sex education and prevention of diseases transmitted through sexual intercourse.
April had been designated National Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Month, an annual event conducted to warn everyone of the growing problem of sexually transmitted diseases in the United States.
Beaufort County ranks 37th among the state’s 100 counties when it comes to STD infection rates, according to the N.C. Epidemiological Profile for HIV and STD Prevention and Care.
Clifton Langley, a public-health education specialist with the health department, defines risky behavior as unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners and the sharing of needles associated with intravenous drug use.
Chlamydia is the leading STD in Beaufort County, followed by gonorrhea, Langley said. The risk of transmission of both diseases can be significantly reduced by the use of condoms, and both are easily treatable, he said.
The health department provides free STD testing, condoms, STD-related statistics and other information about STDs to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. No appointment is needed.
Condom stations are also located throughout the county at various locations including Tattoo Rich on U.S. Highway 17 and the Aurora Medical Center.
North Carolina has the 10th-highest AIDS infection rate in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And though the spread of STDs in Beaufort County is a serious issue, “it isn’t as bad as other counties,” Langley said.
The United States has the highest rates of STD infection in the industrialized world. The most reliable methods of preventing the contraction and spread of STDs are abstaining from sexual intercourse entirely or to be in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner, according to the CDC.