Some Sexually Transmitted Infections Increasing in South Dakota; Lack of Education, Health Services on American Indian Reservations Partly To Blame, Officials Say
The number of gonorrhea and chlamydia cases in South Dakota peaked at record levels last year, and HIV/AIDS cases also are on the rise, according to the state Department of Health's 2008 infectious disease report, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports. The number of chlamydia infections reached an all-time high of 2,948 in 2008, up by 328 since 2007, according to provisional data in the report. Gonorrhea infections increased by 29.4% to 370. There were 34 HIV/AIDS infections reported in 2008, compared with 25 in 2007.
State epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger said higher numbers of chlamydia cases in western counties were related to higher rates among American Indians, likely because of lack of adequate screening programs in Indian Health Services clinics on the reservations.
Charon Asetoyer, executive director of the Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center, said a lack of sexual education in schools is partly to blame for the increases. She also suggested that a reduction to health care resources at state and federal levels for American Indian health care is contributing to the spread of infectious diseases among the group.
"You cannot take health care away from communities and expect a community to maintain their health without information and resources," Asetoyer said, adding, "The statistics are proof that young people need sex education to be able to protect themselves. If you do not have the tools to protect yourself -- the information -- you are going to see an increase in the number of sexually transmitted diseases" (Brandert, Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 1/12).