St. Louis ranks highest in reported STIs in U.S.

| Senior News Editor


Number of reported new cases in 2010

Chlaymidia – 1570
Gonorrhea – 744
HIV – 305
Syphils – 49

St. Louis is regularly recognized as having the highest rate of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) in the country.

And in a sexually-charged environment like college, Washington University students are no strangers to STIs either.

According to Melissa Ruwitch, assistant director of Student Health Services, the clinic sees a fair number of infected students.

“The SHS medical service providers see students with herpes, HPV and Chlamydia pretty often. They see students with gonorrhea and syphilis occasionally. They have seen some HIV-positive students in the last few years,” Ruwitch wrote in an e-mail to Student Life.

SHS does not collect statistics about STIs, according to Ruwitch. The information that they do have is contingent upon students reporting to them. SHS has not done an official survey of students’ sexual activities since 2007.

In St. Louis itself, there has been an increase in syphilis and gonorrhea, according to Scott Elman, president of Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC). Elman attended a panel on STIs in St. Louis, and said that it would not be surprising if the University saw an increase in these diseases as well.

Over the past year, the city has seen more people contract STIs. In St. Louis County in 2010, there were 1,570 new cases of chlaymidia, 744 new cases of gonorrhea, 49 new cases of syphilis and 305 new cases of HIV, according to a report by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Elman recommends that students use condoms to prevent STI infection.

However, not all STIs can be prevented by using condoms. Condoms are useful in protecting against STIs that are transmitted through fluids. Both herpes and HPV can be spread through skin to skin contact.