McLean County reports lower sexually transmitted disease rates than its most similar Central Illinois neighbors, but the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health said that could point to a problem.
McLean County last year reported 956 cases of chlamydia, compared to over 1,700 cases reported in Peoria County. Champaign and Sangamon counties fall in between with 1,637 and 1,466 cases reported, respectively.
“I don't think it's over calling it to say that we have a problem with STIs,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. “I think we don't want to discourage testing, we absolutely want to promote testing. And usually the more you test something, the more you'll find it.”
Peoria County also reported the highest rate of gonorrhea last year with 641 confirmed cases, ahead of Champaign (603), Sangamon (480), and McLean (210) counties.
Ezike said counties with higher rates might be doing something right.
“It could be that they’re more actively testing to identify these cases where perhaps some other counties do not have as robust (of a) testing program,” she said.
Ezike said there is no one factor that determines why certain areas have higher STD rates, but that health departments need to put a focus on educating the public about prevention, testing, and treatment.
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