Nationwide, half of all new STDs are occurring among youth age
15-24. Over the last five years, STDs have increased in Illinois,
with the state ranking 10th and 11th, respectively, for gonorrhea
and chlamydia -- the two most commonly reported infections. In 2011,
Cook County had the highest rate of gonorrhea in the nation and
ranked second in the number of primary and secondary syphilis cases,
as well as chlamydia, and every county in Illinois reported at least
one case of chlamydia.
"Most STDs are treatable and many are curable. Early detection
through testing is key, and increased screening, especially among
high-risk populations, is critical to detect and treat infections,
some of which are asymptomatic," said Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, director
of the Illinois Department of Public Health. "We are fortunate in
Illinois to be able to provide access to comprehensive information
about STDs, as well as clinics to get tested."
State health officials encourage using the IDPH HIV and STD
hotline, 1-800-243-2437, for information, and they are using clinics
statewide to provide STD diagnosis and treatment, if a primary
health care provider is unavailable. A full list is available here:
In 2011, chlamydia cases in adolescents age 15-19 accounted for
35 percent of all reported cases in Illinois -- an incidence rate
five times greater than the overall state rate. Gonorrhea cases
among 15- to 19-year-olds in Illinois accounted for 33 percent of
all reported cases, with an incidence rate seven times greater than
the overall state rate.
African-Americans were also disproportionately affected.
African-Americans accounted for 51 percent of the state’s reported
chlamydia infections and 70 percent of the gonorrhea infections last
Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted bacterial
infection in the U.S. and, along with gonorrhea, is a major cause of
pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID. In women, untreated PID can
spread into the uterus or fallopian tubes and cause chronic pelvic
pain, infertility and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy. Women
with chlamydia are also up to five times more likely to become
infected with HIV. In 2010 in Illinois, 37 percent of all new HIV
infections were among residents age 13-29.
Primary care physicians, pediatricians and other health care
providers play an important role in ensuring young people receive
correct information and comprehensive health care. According to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adolescents believe
primary care settings are an appropriate place to discuss sexual
health and would like their providers to initiate such discussions.
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Sex education in schools, as well as received from parents and
caregivers, provides adolescents with information to make informed
choices about sex at a crucial period of their development. Teens
want to talk with their parents and trusted caregivers about sex and
relationships, and those adults have a strong influence on whether
teenagers make healthy decisions about sexual activity for
Research from the CDC shows that teens who talk with their
parents about sex, relationships, birth control and pregnancy tend
to have sex at later age, use condoms and birth control more often
if they do have sex, have better communication with romantic
partners, and have sex less often.
Hasbrouck recently testified before legislators in support of
House Bill 2675. If passed, the measure would provide
comprehensive, medically accurate and age-appropriate sex education
to sixth- to 12th-graders.
According to the CDC, there are a
number of ways to prevent STDs:
The most reliable way to avoid infection is to not have sex.
Vaccines are safe, effective and recommended ways to prevent
hepatitis B and HPV, or human papillomavirus.
-- Mutual monogamy means that you agree to be sexually active
with only one uninfected person, who has agreed to be sexually
active only with you.
-- Reducing your number of sex partners can
decrease your risk for STDs.
Reduced number of
-- Correct and consistent
use of latex condoms is highly effective in reducing STD
transmission. Use a condom every time you have anal, vaginal or
Last year, IDPH launched the "Save Lives, Condomize" campaign to
increase universal access to quality condoms, sexual health
education and community mobilization supporting condom use. Condoms
are 95 percent effective in preventing STDs and also provide
protection against pregnancy.
For more information on STDs and where to get tested, visit
Department of Public Health file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]