NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Recently released numbers show the region is improving when it comes to those infected with sexually transmitted disease. But the news isn’t all good. Norfolk’s gone from number three on the list of most sexually diseased cities in the nation to number five. It’s a small gain, but officials at the Health Department say it represents hard work.
“We do acknowledge that we are having a few issues with STD’s, but I do feel like we’re doing targeted prevention efforts in order to keep those STD rates down,” said Rosalind Falzone, the STD Program Supervisor for the Norfolk Department of Public Health. “In 2013 we did see an increase in Syphilis and as a Health Department we got together with other community organizations to work with them so we could talk as a whole to see what our focus point was. In 2014 Norfolk has seen a decrease in Chlamydia; they’ve also seen a decrease in early Syphilis.”
They’re pushing to provide better access to care by changing and extending clinic hours. Monday through Thursday there’s an all-day clinic and every second and fourth Tuesday of the month they now have an after work clinic that’s in the evening for the first time. There’s also free STD testing and treatment available. Plus, they’re finding new ways to spread useful information to cut down on the spread of harmful diseases.
“A lot of times when someone comes back with an STD they really don’t know ‘Where do I go from there? How do I tell my partner?’” said Falzone. “We do have what’s called disclosure assistance services now. We need to make sure that everybody, not just the city of Norfolk but our surrounding cities, that anybody who’s thinking about being sexually active please consider to get tested first.”
It’s all to make sure anybody in Norfolk or beyond who is thinking about being sexually active considers getting tested first. Three cities on the Top 10 list have large military populations that the researchers say pushed those cities to the top: Norfolk Naval Base, Fort Hood in Killeen,Texas and Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C. Rosalind says they work constantly with the military to collaborate on testing and treatment options as well.