Clinics to address STD concern

VNA hosts screenings in light of increases

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If you go

What: Free HIV and sexually transmitted disease testing

When: March 17 and 31

Where: Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association's Craig office, 745 Russell St.

• The testing is done on a walk-in basis. No appointments are necessary.

Those who should be tested for HIV and other STDs include anyone who can answer yes to any of the following questions:

• Are you in a new relationship?

• Do you think you are at risk for a sexually transmitted disease?

• Do you have more than one sexual partner?

• Have you had sex with a man or woman who has had other partners?

• Have you shared injection drug needles for any reason or had sex with someone who has?

• Have you had unprotected sex?

- Source: Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association

— A nurse from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment pointed out the numbers - "dramatic" increases in the number of sexually transmitted diseases in Moffat County.

It didn't take long for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association to respond.

According to Public Health and Environment, reported cases of Chlamydia and gonorrhea in Moffat County increased by more than 50 percent each from 2006 to 2007.

"That makes you interested pretty quick," said Cole White, VNA director of community care.

In response, the VNA is offering two clinics this month. The clinics are free and confidential, and offer rapid HIV and STD testing. They are scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and March 31 at the VNA, 745 Russell St.

A Public Health and Environment nurse will conduct the clinics.

"So, it's not like you're doing this with someone you'll see at the supermarket," White said.

According to the state, there were 30 reported cases of Chlamydia and four cases of gonorrhea reported in 2006. Those numbers jumped to 46 and eight, respectively, in 2007.

"Those are the two big ones in this area," White said. "Syphilis and HIV aren't as prominent."

STD cases reported in Routt and Rio Blanco counties in 2007 were consistent with 2006, the state reported. However, White pointed out, Eagle, Grand and Summit counties experienced similar increases as Moffat County.

As of Sept. 30, 2007, there were six reported cases of HIV in Moffat County, and four cases of AIDS, according to the state.

White did not have any comparative data available Thursday for local HIV and AIDS cases. Statewide, he said, the number of new HIV cases rose in Colorado from 270 in 2001, a 15-year low, to 322 cases in 2006, an increase of more than 19 percent.

Tests at the clinics this month will be conducted through finger sticks and urine analysis, White said. Patients won't have to wait long for results: STD screenings are almost instantaneous, and HIV tests take about 20 minutes.

Protocol requires a positive HIV test be followed soon after by another test, White said.

"It's rare to have a false positive, but they do occur," he said.

A sobering thought about HIV is that some estimates indicate that one of every three people with the virus are unaware they have it, White said, making it all the more important for someone at-risk to be screened before infecting another person.

Screenings at the clinic are conducted on a walk-in basis. No appointments are necessary.

The VNA is seeking a good turnout for the clinics in hopes of avoiding a similar increase in the STD numbers next year.

"Ideally, we'd like to see 20 to 30 each day," White said. But, he added, the clinic is for "any and all people who feel like they may have been exposed.

"STDs don't hide away in one particular demographic."

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