Lubbock STD Rates Twice State Average - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/11/04

Lubbock STD Rates Twice State Average

It's an annual culmination of statistics on everything from crime, employment, education and even health. While Lubbock faired well in some categories, areas that continue to be a major concern are teen pregnancy and STD rates.

Lubbock reports 1,000 cases of STD's each year, twice the state average. "Lubbock County and all of West Texas has had rates of Gonorrhea and Chlamydia that are well above state and national rates," says Eric Benson with the Texas Department of Health.

Compared to the state average Lubbock county STD rates are alarmingly high. This year's report says Lubbock is 58% above the state average number of Gonorrhea cases. And is 67% higher in the number of Chlamydia cases. Health officials say there may be a number of contributing factors. Like lack of education and testing.

"I think it is increasing. It's just one of those things that perhaps with education and a community that care about the issue we can turn it around," says Judi Blakeley, Covenant Community Outreach. And many people who have an STD may pass it to others without even knowing it.

"Females can have Gonorrhea for along time and not have any signs or symptoms until late progression of the disease," says Benson.

"We are very concerned and we are trying to educate them as early as possible. Jack Booe with the Lubbock Independent School District says they begin educating students about teen pregnancy and STD's in seventh and eighth grade. But he says the district may look into starting that education much sooner.

"We are looking at 6th, 7th, and 8th grade starting in 6th grade very heavily on the education program because we are seeing children that young facing these problems," says Booe.

"Both teen pregnancies and STDs are rampant in Lubbock and I think we as a community have to take on these issues and get serious about lowering those numbers," says Blakeley.

But, the best prevention is getting tested even if you don't have symptoms.

"It's important people not only think about signs and symptoms but they also need to be honest with themselves about their behavior and if they've been risky they need to get tested," says Benson.

We mentioned the number of teen pregnancies. Those are up too, 22% of pregnancies belong to teen mothers. But not all the news is bad. Among Lubbock's strong trends: 25% of Lubbock county residents have a college education, at least a bachelor's degree. Also Lubbock has a low cost of living. 12% lower than the national average and declining crime rates.

(Click here) to view the entire United Way report.

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