HIV on the Rise

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EUGENE, Ore. — Health care providers throughout Lane County are banding together in response to recent spikes in STD cases.

At the end of last year, Lane County saw an increase in the numbers of gonorrhea and syphilis cases.

Reps say the trend continues this year and with another disease–HIV. The numbers had health care providers from all over the area working together to stop the increase.

“We do know that the complications of STI’s can be very serious,” said Doug Harger, Oregon Public Health STD Program Manager.

That’s why representatives from throughout the county met up at the public health building Thursday morning.

“We had a number of providers here today. We had the University of Oregon, Lane Community College, the two local hospitals,” said Cindy Morgan, County Communicable Disease Supervisor.

Compared to this time last year, gonorrhea numbers are nearly double. And some believe this could just be the beginning of a huge problem if the issue isn’t addressed now.

“Having an STD can put you at greater risk for HIV. It’s something that we see going hand in hand as they said today, ‘STDs travel together,'” said Renee Yandel, HIV Alliance Executive Director.

While one doesn’t necessarily cause the other, health workers say there is a correlation, so they weren’t surprised when reported HIV cases shot up too.

There have been 40 so far this year–that’s more than half the total cases for 2012. Health providers think working together can bring those numbers down.

“It was an opportunity for us to bring them together and they are the ones at the front lines serving many of the patients, and it’s also an opportunity for us to have a consistent message throughout our community,” Morgan said.

“It’s an important message that we all know, that this is difficult sometimes to talk with your provider about your sexual history, but it’s an important part of our health. And it’s really important that people do that so that we can get people to do the testing and treatment we know needs to be done,” Yandel said.

Organizers said we often think to do things like get an annual lipid panel during our regular physicals. Getting an STD test should be no different and it’s up to providers to make sure those conversations take place if we want to stop this growing trend.

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