Mobile County health officials warn of increase of STDs

This was front page of Saturday’s Press-Register:

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Staff Reporter

Offers of free testing for sexually transmitted diseases have been posted at bars in Mobile and Prichard by the Mobile County Health Department as STD cases jump in number.

Boldly worded fliers taped up in restrooms warn of the increase in new cases of HIV and syphilis. “Are you having sex?” one flier reads. “Get tested now.”

Mobile County recorded 23 syphilis cases between January and April, nearly three times more than the eight cases in the same months last year.

“People are having more unprotected sexual encounters and participating in more risky behaviors,” said health officer Dr. Bernard Eichold II.

Paul Piepho, STD intervention program manager for the Health Department, said he wants to get the word out to those who need it. What’s especially troubling, he said, is that many of the new syphilis cases involve men already diagnosed with HIV.

He said it’s likely that some men with HIV are having unprotected sex and potentially spreading the virus.

The human immunodeficiency virus causes AIDS, and differs from most other viruses because it attacks the immune system. AIDS — acquired immune deficiency syndrome — is the final stage of HIV infection.

There were 32 cases of new HIV infections reported between January and April. Last year, 26 new HIV infections were reported during the period.

Numbers for Baldwin County weren’t available Friday.

The Mobile County Health Department’s STD clinic offers free and confidential STD testing and medications. The clinic is open from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, at 251 N. Bayou St. in downtown Mobile.

A $1 registration fee and a picture ID are required. A blood test is used to test for HIV and some other diseases. Results are usually returned within two weeks, officials said.

Free testing for STDs is also offered by appointment only in Baldwin County at the Health Department’s office in Robertsdale on U.S. 90. For more information, call 251-947-1910.


***Note:  South Alabama Cares offers free testing Monday-Friday 9am-4pm.  Tests are oral swabs and results are given in 20 minutes. ***


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