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Thursday, October 20, 2016

STD rates are soaring

Q
I started as a nurse in 1985. It was at the height of AIDS hysteria. Back then we would wear a space suit into rooms of patients with AIDS:  gowns, goves, masks. Everyone was scared to death. Nurses quit nursing because of the fear. It was an awful time. Taking care of patients dying of AIDS was brutal, watching mostly young men suffer was awful.

Then as time went on and we became more educated, things changed. At this point it is a rare occurrence to care for someone with AIDS. We still see people with HIV but it has become a chronic illness, rather than a death sentence, with treatment.

Why the change? People stopped having unprotected sex. Now we seem to have entered an era when this generation, who never saw the devastation of the AIDS epidemic, are having unprotected sex once again. STD rates are soaring.

Last year there were 1.5 million cases of chlamydia.  Two thirds of the cases were women aged 15 to 24. Chlamydia can go undetected causing infertility. There were over almost 400,000 cases of gonorrhea last year. The majority were men who have sex with men. The problem is gonorrhea has become harder to treat because antibiotics are becoming resistant. Syphilis cases are also increasing.

Bottom line? People aren't using condoms. They are not being educated. Another problem is health clinics are being closed. Planned parenthood funding is being cut. Funding for clinics and education must be a priority. Education should start in the emergency room. I wish we could have a supply of condoms.

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