SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - A new study ranks South Bend as one of the top 100 U.S. cities for cases of sexually transmitted diseases.
"They're not good, but it is the truth of the situation," said Betsy McCue, an epidemiologist with St. Joseph County.
The study was done by the organizers of the website Innerbody.com, using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Census.
"It's an alarming public health problem, because those infections can cause long-term fertility issues for both men and women, they make someone more susceptible to HIV," McCue said.
The South Bend metro area ranked 75th in the study, with 890 cases reported per 100,000 people.
Out of the metro population of 270,771 people, there were 19 cases of HIV, 1,685 cases of chlamydia, 720 cases of gonorrhea and six cases of syphilis.
The county points out a couple reasons as to why the rates of STDs could be so high here in St. Joseph County. One reason could be lack of education around safer sex.
"Sex education doesn't go beyond talking about condoms, very briefly and generally," McCue said.
Socioeconomic status could also play a role.
"It's an area where we have higher rates of poverty than some other cities, so access to health care can be limited in particular groups," McCue added.
When it comes to stopping the spread of STDs, communication is key.
"People need to also not be so concerned with the stigma of STIs, because once someone is able to have that conversation and get tested and they can get cured with antibiotics, and its really simple," McCue said.
However, not all STDs can be cured, so the county says get tested, know what resources are available and help stop the spread.
"Anytime anyone has any burning or discharge, they should see a doctor, but even if you don't have symptoms, if you're a sexually active person, then you should be screened at least once a year or when there's a new partner," McCue said.