St. Louis, MO – The city of St. Louis is once again leading the nation in rates of two common sexually transmitted diseases.
2007 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show more than 1200 cases of Chlamydia for every 100,000 city residents, and more than 740 cases of gonorrhea for every 100,000 residents. The numbers are well above the national average for both diseases.
Erise Williams is the director of Williams and Associates, a St. Louis non-profit that deals with minority health issues. He says funding is the problem - both the amount and the preconditions placed on federal money by the Bush administration.
"We really have been sort of lacking on the prevention side because of where the funding was directed," he said.
Williams says the prevalence of untreated substance abuse in the minority community also leads to high STD rates as people take risks to score drugs.
The city and county health departments are doing the best they can with limited resources to get the rates down, said Washington University anthropology professor Bradley Stoner, who helped develop the 2006 STD treatment guidelines.
"Some of it is clinical care, but some of it is really keeping track of reported case rates, notifying partners, and getting those people in for treatment, and that part of the system has been under-funded for a long time," he said. 2009 budgets for both the city and St. Louis County health departments are lower than last years.
Infection rates in the county are lower, but still above the national average.