ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A recent study has named Rockford as having one of the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases in the country.
The Forest City ranked in the Top 70 nationwide.
“Sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, are a rising concern in our community,” said Todd Kisner, of the Winnebago County Health Department.
The study, using data from the CDC, ranks Rockford #63 in the nation in cases per capita.
“When we talk STIs, we talk about chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV,” Kisner said. “In our community, all four of those STIs are on the rise.”
According to data collected by the Illinois Department of Public Health, there were over 2,100 reports of chlamydia and 750 cases of gonorrhea reported in Winnebago County in 2018.
The County Health Department says it’s important for sexual partners to communicate medical issues with each other.
“Some of the STIs can have long-lasting health effects on an individual if they’re not properly treated at the time of infection. So, we really promote that communication,” Kisner said.
The health department offers services for people who may need help starting that conversation.
“We can help an individual notify his or her partner of the infection, or we can do that anonymously,” he said. “Our goal, ultimately, is to get the individuals treated, so they don’t reinfect each other.”
Dr. Tim Durkee is an OBGYN with SwedishAmerican, who says awareness is the key to fighting the problem.
“Knowledge is power, so when these numbers come out, it’s a reminder to people that these diseases still exist,” he said. “If you are exposed, or think you’ve been exposed, see your physician and be tested for them.”
Kisner says the health department is working on expanding its expedited therapy program. Under that program, a person can pick up medication for their partner, so they don’t have to come in to a healthcare facility themselves.
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