OMAHA, Neb. — The Centers for Disease Control found that STD rates hit yet another record high in 2019 and Douglas County is above the national average.
According to the CDC, sexually transmitted diseases are at an all-time high nationally for the sixth year in a row. The new data shows that not only are STD rates on the rise but there are serious discrepancies in the communities experiencing that spike. In 2019, STD rates for black people were five to eight times higher than those that are white. American Indians and other Pacific Islanders had three to five times the rates of white individuals and the Latino population had one to two times the rates of whites.
"It's sad, you know? I feel like we're not doing our job properly educating the community. Awareness is the number one to help alleviate some of this issue," said Dr. Sami Zeineddine, who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology at CHI Health.
Dr. Zeineddine has seen higher rates of STD's in his clinic, a trend seen all across the county.
"Douglas County has historically had one of the highest STD rates in the country," Nebraska Executive Director of Planned Parenthood North Central States Andi Curry Grubb said.
"So we aren't necessarily the worst but it's not great and I think part of that is just because we have such an increase testing amount here," Douglas County Health STD prevention and control supervisor Leah Casanave said.
Casanave says thanks to multiple community efforts, the county is testing at a much higher rate than the rest of the state, hence the higher numbers. However, the Douglas County STD clinic isn't testing at all. The clinic has been closed for the last four months so staff can be utilized for the COVID-19 vaccination effort. It isn't expected to reopen until late summer, when the majority of the population has been vaccinated.
"I'm glad we have such good connections with our community partners because they've been kind of picking up the slack when we haven't been able to," Casanave said.
Other clinics, like Planned Parenthood, have been keeping busy with the additional appointments.
"In our Omaha clinic specifically we've actually been seeing higher than average testing numbers for about I would say the last nine months or so," Curry Grubb said.
Health officials say they expect to see similar data in 2020 and beyond, despite the pandemic and clinic closures.
"Are we going to be having another epidemic when we come back? I mean, we essentially moved from this one to an STD one," Casanave said.
STD clinics open for appointments:
Charles Drew Health Center: (402) 451-3553, 2915 Grant Street, www.charlesdrew.com
Methodist Community Health Clinic: (402) 354-3198, 208 S. 26th Avenue; **$25 co-pay
NOAH Free Clinic: (402) 933-0737, 5620 Ames Avenue; Hours: Mon & Fri 12pm - 5pm, Tues & Thurs 12pm - 6pm, Sat 12pm - 4pm (Closed Wed & Sun)
One World Community Health Centers: Medical (402) 734-4110, Pharmacy (402) 502-5832; Multiple locations around the Omaha Metro area