SW Georgia STD rate called 'shocking' - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

SW Georgia STD rate called 'shocking'

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March 12, 2008

Albany --  The Centers for Disease Control says one in four teenage girls has a Sexually Transmitted Disease.  But it's much worse in our area.  Southwest Georgia Public Health Officials say up to half the teenage girls in our region have an STD.  They call it a looming epidemic that parents must talk about with their kids.  

The numbers are shocking.  Up to 50% of teenage girls in southwest Georgia have a sexually transmitted disease.  That's twice the national rate.  

 "We do see students in our clinic that have STD's or are receiving treatment for or are thinking they possible have the symptoms of a certain STD," said Hope Harrelson, an R.N. with the Network of Trust.

and it's across the board.  "We see a lot of Chlamydia,  we see a lot of Gonorrhea, we see a lot of HPV and that's the virus that's associated with cervical cancer," said  Dr. Cheryl Tolliver of the East Albany Pediatric and Adolescent Clinic.          

The Southwest Georgia Public Health District only keeps formal records for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis.  In Dougherty County that means 9% have one of the three, it's 8%  in Early County, and 11% in Terrell County.  But other tests give officials a good idea of the number of girls with HPV and other STD's.  Add them all together and the numbers here far exceed the national average.

"I have children right now that I am treating with chronic abdominal pain, they have had pelvic inflammatory disease and they have chronic abdominal pain that is a result of sexually transmitted diseases that they have had at 13 and 14 years of age," Tolliver said.

Doctors say teens don't realize the long term affects of these diseases and they need more education about the topic at home and school.

"A one time class really isn't enough we really need some kind of ongoing long term curriculum for our students and be able to reach our to our parents and the community to see how they can be a positive impact and a solution," said Harrelson.

Doctors say teens and parents need to understand the risks.

"It's actually a looming epidemic that people are very unaware of and believe that it will happen to the person next to them, but not them," said Harrelson.

Doctors say parents need to have a discussion with their children about the dangers of STD's between the ages of 10 and 12.