Sexually transmitted disease: How to fight frighteningly high rates of infection
Chlamydia rates among young African American women in L.A. County have reached alarming levels: 8.7% of all black teenagers ages 15 to 19 have the sexually transmitted disease. Gonorrhea rates are lower but still troublingly high among African American girls and women. Rates among Latino girls and women also are above average.
And the disease rates are especially bad in the 2nd Supervisorial District, which encompasses many low-income areas of the county -- generally at least twice as high.
Chlamydia is easily curable with antibiotics, but if it is allowed to spread undetected, it can cause a host of potentially dangerous health problems, especially to the fetus of a pregnant woman. Yet how to catch it early? Some 70% of infected women have no symptoms.
The county's well-regarded "I Know" campaign is one smart approach. It provides free home testing kits to women, who can mail in their tests and receive the results by Internet. But not everyone has Internet access. So on Monday, the county and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas are kicking it up a notch by placing dedicated kiosks throughout his district that will allow women to order the kits online and get the results as well.
What's especially heartening about this is that, according to Ridley-Thomas' office, pastors and other religious leaders in the district aren't getting moralistic about the problem, realizing that the most important moral issue here is to provide low-income women and girls with information and medical care. They've gotten behind the effort, an important public relations tool in neighborhoods where a good part of community life revolves around the church.
Graphic provided by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas' office.