Illinois Health Department Encourages Testing During STD Awareness Month

Illinois ranks top 10 nationwide for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia infections  

CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–April 18, 2012.  Every year sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, cost the U.S. healthcare system $17 billion and cost individuals even more in immediate and long-term health consequences. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) encourages residents to discuss sexual health and get tested during National STD Awareness Month in April.

Nationwide, there are an estimated 19 million new STD infections annually with nearly half of all cases occurring in young people aged 15 to 24. Illinois ranks in the top 10 in the nation for the number of reported cases for the two most common STDs, gonorrhea and Chlamydia – 7th and 5th, respectively.

“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 IDPH Acting Director Dr. Arthur Kohrman. “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/STD Hotline (1-800-243-2437) for information, andutilizing clinics statewide providing STD diagnosis and treatment, if a primary health care provider is unavailable. A full list can be found here:

In 2011, Chlamydia cases in adolescents aged 15 to 19 accounted for 36 percent of all reported cases in Illinois – an incidence rate five times greater than the overall state rate. Gonorrhea cases among 15-19 year olds in Illinois accounted for 34 percent of all reported cases, with an incidence rate seven times greater than the overall state rate. 

African-Americans were also disproportionately affected. African-American women accounted for half of the state’s reported Chlamydia infections and 68 percent of the gonorrhea infections last year; African-American men were diagnosed with 54 percent of Chlamydia infections and 70 percent of all gonorrhea infections in Illinois in 2011.

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 (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 aged 13 to 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 (CDC), adolescents believe primary care settings are an appropriate place to discuss sexual health and would like their providers to initiate such discussions.

For more information on STDs and where to get tested, please visit the IDPH website: