April is designated as National Sexually Transmitted Diseases Awareness Month, and statistics show that Gordon County has noted ups and downs among teens ranging from 13 to 19 years of age.
Information gathered from the Department of Public Health showed that Chlamydia and Gonorrhea Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) have remained varied in Gordon County since 2006, which is the earliest data that is available.
Chlamydia, a common STI caused by the bacterium, Chlamydia trachomatis, can damage a woman’s reproductive organs and cause irreversible damage, including infertility. It can occur before a woman ever recognizes a problem; Chlamydia also can cause problems in men as well, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Gonorrhea, an STI that is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, is a bacterium that can grow in warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract, including the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes in women, and in the urethra in women and men. The bacterium can also grow in the mouth, throat, eyes and anus, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Back then, in 2006, there were 36 teen cases reports, and in 2010, the latest data available, revealed 36 cases. In 2007 there were 29 reported teen cases; in 2008 there were 39 cases; in 2009 there were 42 cases, which was the largest number of reported cases in Gordon County.
Roberta Charbonneau, Coordinator for the Family Connection of Gordon County, said that it is extremely important for parents and students to talk about sex and the consequences of not using protection.
“Thirty-seven percent of students have said that they have not had a open conversation with their parents about sex,” said Charbonneau. “Parents need to talk with their kids.”
According to the latest findings from Gordon County Family Connection, Georgia ranked 13th for Chlamydia, sixth for Gonorrhea and third in the state for Syphilis.
Charbonneau reiterated the importance of communication, no matter how awkward the conversation might be.
“Kids are already hearing about sex,” said Charbonneau. “Why not hear it straight from you?”
She advised that if a teen has contracted an STI, the best choice is to go to the Heath Department and start talking with their parents or someone they can trust.
In order to start talking with teens about sexual health, the experts at Advocates for Youth came up with a few tips on how to begin the conversation.
For more information on STIs, prevention and care, call the Gordon County Health Department at 706-624-1444.