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Comanche Co. STD Rates Soaring

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COMANCHE COUNTY Okla_ Officials are calling it the subject we can no longer ignore: the very high rates of STDs in Comanche County.

It's nothing to proud of, but Comanche County is No. 1 in cases of Chlamydia. Even more shocking is that ages 15-19 have the second highest rate of all STDs in the county. Health officials are doing what they can to stop the spread and to raise awareness.

The numbers are shocking, but they don't lie. Comanche County is going through its own crisis. It's a problem that education, awareness, and protection can help solve, though. On top of those numbers for Chlamydia cases, Comanche County ranks among in the top five in syphilis and gonorrhea, too. Comanche County Health Department Health Educator Janet New said they are combating the soaring rates.

"We are trying to get education, evidence-based education into our school system," New said. "We want to create awareness in our community that this is an actual problem."

They also supply condoms to local tattoo shops, bars, and barber shops. Something tattoo parlor owner Richard Burns is proud to have done for over a year now. He gives out about 200 per month.

"Well I am happy," Burns said. "Lawton needs it. We need somebody to take care of it. The STD rate is huge, and we don't want it to get any higher. So, I would rather help than hurt."

With giving out protection and spreading awareness, the Health Department hopes to lower the risk and the impact STDs have. This effort to get the rate down is going to take everyone.

"It's going to take our faith-based organizations to talk about the issue," New said. "It's going to take the parents to educate their children. It's going to take our school systems. It's going to take everyone to be aware that we do have a problem and to help our youth make responsible decisions regarding sexual health."

Ages 19-24 have the highest rates. Remember, the best way to protect yourself is abstinence. Safe sex is the next best way, but nothing is 100% safe except abstinence.

These statistics are from 2012 and are the most recent. Oklahoma's Department of Health works a year behind to fully study that information in coordination with county health departments.

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