Saturday, October 26, 2013

Closed STD Clinic & 300% Increase in Syphilis

The City of San Angelo closed its Immunization and Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic September 28, 2012.  San Angelo Live reported:

Since January of this year, San Angelo has seen a spike in sexually transmitted diseases, up 300 percent from 2012.

Mayor Alvin New and City Council prioritized a tax cut over children's health and controlling the spread of STD's.  Immunizations and STD testing and treatment at the most basic of public health services.  State data on our area's incidence of sexually transmitted diseases showed Tom Green County in the Top 25 for incidence of Chlamydia.

None of the three people in charge, Interim City Manager Michael Dane, Assistant City Manager Rick Weise or Health Director Sandra Villareal, shared any data with Council on consequences of shutting down the clinic.

Early identification and treatment helps stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.  Without this critical service, disease spread can become exponential. 

Oscar Hernandez, HIV/STD Manager for the DSHS in our region emphasized the severity of the outbreak in Tom Green County.

“For Syphilis itself, we have 26 cases of Syphilis from January till this date [Oct. 15],” Hernandez said. “If you do a comparison on what we got in 2012, we got 8 cases. For this year, we’re already well into the 20-something mark. So, is that a significant increase? Yes, drastically. We got about a 300 percent increase.”

Given this Syphilis spike and 2012 statewide infection rates, Tom Green could be in the Top 25 for both Chlamydia and Syphilis in 2013. 

City Council took a meat cleaver to immunizations in last year's budget, with palpable consequences.  Last fall/winter's flu season was more severe in the Concho Valley, in part due to the City's reducing flu shots.  This season's flu shots will be down 80% from historical levels.

The City of San Angelo cut both services to save money.  Oddly, this same council used a similar amount of funds for three purposes.  It gave a new employee holiday, hired a downtown master developer and gifted a half cent property tax cut.  Mayor Alvin New and City Council clearly stated their priorities and it wasn't public health.

The City reopened the STD clinic in August 2013, thanks to grant funding from the state of Texas and the federal government.  It tests and treats STD's three days per week.  The clinic has eleven months of STD's to catch up on. 

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