BY JOHN H. WALKER
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
There are some health rankings in which a county finds itself in the No. 1 position.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STD), for instance.
But that’s the case with Edgecombe County, which is No. 1 in the state in reported cases of HIV and Chlamydia, No. 2 in the state in reported cases of AIDS and gonorrhea and No. 17 in the state in reported cases of Syphilis.
Meredith Capps, health education supervisor for the Edgecombe County Health Department, said the most recent rates available were for 2011.
“Education is the key with STI (sexually transmitted infections) prevention,” she said. “We need to teach not abstinence, but sexual responsibility and safe sex practices.”
According to the 2011 HIV/STD Surveillance Report from the Communicable Disease Branch of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the three-year (2009-2011) average rate of diagnosed HIV disease in North
Carolina was 16.4 per 100,000 population. The top five counties with highest rates were Edgecombe (40.8 per 100,000), Mecklenburg (35.8 per 100,000), Wilson
(30.4 per 100,000), Durham (29.9 per 100,000), and Cumberland County (27.1 per 100,000).
For the three-year period, Edgecombe reported 24, 22 and 21 cases, respectively.
Chlamydia is the most frequently reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States. Chlamydia can infect both men and women and can cause serious, permanent damage to a woman's reproductive organs and, because it often has no symptoms.
The Centers for Disease Control says that sexually active females 25 years old and younger need testing every year. Chlamydia is easy to cure, but can impact a woman’s ability to have children if left untreated.
Again referring to the 2011 HIV/STD Surveillance Report, Edgecombe County has experienced a steady climb in the number of confirmed cases between 2007 and 2011: 471, 546, 621, 646 and 661. In 2011, the county’s rate was 1,168.8 per 100,000 population — up 265.9 in just four years.
In diagnosed cases of AIDS, Edgecombe trails only Jones County. Between 2009 and 2011, there were a total of 47 cases in the county for a rate of 28.0 per 100,000 population. Jones County, with a population one-fifth that of Edgecombe, had a rate of 29.7 per 100,00 population. There were seven reported cases over the three-year period.
The 2011 HIV/STD Surveillance Report shows that seven of the top nine counties in the states in diagnosed AIDS cases are in the east: 1-Jones, 2-Edgecombe, 3-Lenoir,4-Wilson, 7-Martin, 8-Pitt and 9-Nash.
There is some good news in the report in that it shows a five-year decline in cases of gonorrhea — from 377 in 2007 to 260 in 2011.
The complete, 63-page report can be found at http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/stds/figures/std11rpt.pdf.