NewsLocal News

Actions

Douglas Co. had high STD rates before the pandemic; now, testing is down and experts are worried

Posted at 6:08 PM, Aug 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 19:08:46-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — “We know nationwide, screening and testing for sexually transmitted infections because of COVID, because of this pandemic, have gone down 40%," said Lisa Schulze with the Women's Fund of Omaha.

According to the New York Times, STD rates took a sudden downturn in 2020. This isn’t because cases are actually decreasing — testing is just harder to access.

This poses a risk in Omaha where rates have been higher than the national average for years, especially in young people, according to Schulze.

“We know that a lot of folks don’t have any symptoms for things like gonorrhea and chlamydia that is at epidemic proportions in Omaha,” said Schulze.

To help combat this, the Women’s Fund started Access Granted, an initiative providing sexual healthcare and contraceptives.

“That includes free STI testing and treatment, free birth control and free condoms in Omaha and Douglas County,” said Schulze.

"Our testing has been really down. I mean, significantly down,” said Leah Casanave with the Douglas County Health Department.

Casanave said their STD clinic recently reopened, but as they prepare to administer COVID booster shots, services will soon be limited again.

“Obviously, the detriment of that is we aren’t catching as many cases that we usually would,” said Casanave.

If the health department is unavailable for testing, they help patients connect with partners like One World Community Health and Planned Parenthood.

Casanave said despite some roadblocks, it’s important to prioritize your health.

“We still recommend that you come in for that at least yearly check and if you are having multiple sexual partners and not knowing status that we always just say come in and get tested, it can’t hurt," said Casanave.

Visit Access Granted's website here.

See more about testing with the Douglas County Health Department here.

Download our apps today for all of our latest coverage.

Get the latest news and weather delivered straight to your inbox.