Philadelphia Public Health Department To Begin Voluntary Testing of City High School Students for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health will offer voluntary screening and free treatment for sexually transmitted diseases including chlamydia and gonorrhea to all city high school students, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Health department officials expect to test up to 30,000 students for chlamydia. Officials estimate that 3,000 students could test positive for chlamydia, which has become "epidemic" among 15- to 19-year-old Philadelphia females, the Inquirer reports. Citywide, about one in 12 girls in that age group are infected with chlamydia. Further, an education and screening program that was tested last year in two Philadelphia high schools found that one out of every six females had the disease. In addition, 5% of males at the two schools were infected, health department data showed. Next month, the school district and health department plan to begin a screening and education program at several schools and then expand the program citywide. As part of the program, students will receive a presentation on STDs and can then choose to provide a urine sample, which would be analyzed for chlamydia and gonorrhea. The school district plans to inform parents of the program, but students' test results and any treatment services will remain confidential. Officials said they expect the program to reduce gonorrhea rates and make teens more aware of HIV, the Inquirer reports. In addition to the school-based testing and treatment program, the health department has set up free testing at recreation centers, city pools, the Youth Study Center and district health centers. The program has tested at least 10,800 males and 3,100 females since January 2001 (Uhlman, Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.