Rates of sexually transmitted infections in Allegheny County, Pa., disproportionately high among blacks, officials say

Health officials in Allegheny County, Pa., on Wednesday held a sexually transmitted infection diversity conference to discuss the disproportionately higher STI rates among blacks and strategies to reduce them, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Blacks comprise 13.5% of the Allegheny County population. According to the Post-Gazette, last year in Allegheny County blacks were involved in:

  • 49 of 89 cases of syphilis, about 60% of the county total;
  • About 1,585 of 2,164 cases of gonorrhea, or 73.3% of the county total;
  • 3,070 of 5,206 cases of chlamydia, roughly 60% of the county total; and
  • 52 of 92 cases of HIV/AIDS, or 56% of the county total.

Based on 2007 data, statewide blacks -- who comprise 10% of the state population -- were involved in about 52% of chlamydia cases, 65% of gonorrhea cases and 51% of syphilis cases.

Health officials agreed that a combination of STI screening and education, particularly among teenagers, and outreach programs for at-risk adults, is key to reducing the numbers. However, Walter Smith, executive director of Family Resources of Allegheny County, noted that high-risk minority populations are generally more socially and emotionally isolated, making it more difficult for officials to reach them. He said tapping into the social network of such high-risk groups is important.

County Health Department Director Bruce Dixon said ,"These are disparities but not to the magnitude of cities in other parts of the country," adding, "We have an opportunity in Allegheny County to do something about it" (Templeton, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5/14).

Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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