LAURINBURG — Statistics show residents in Scotland County are contracting HIV at a much higher rate than in other parts of the state, county health officials said Tuesday.
A new study found 12 new diagnosed cases of HIV in Scotland County in the past year — about 33.5 people per 100,000 in the county. The average HIV rate for North Carolina in 2015 was 18.6 per 100,000. That ranks Scotland at 8th for reported HIV cases out the 100 counties in the state, health officials said.
The study was discussed during the monthly meeting of the Scotland County Board of Health.
There are currently 140 people reported in Scotland County living with HIV and 58 preported caases of people living with AIDS. The total number of people living with HIV in North Carolina is 29,935 and there are 12,417 people living with AIDS.
In 2015, there was a reported six new diagnoses of AIDS in the county as well.
“The Center for Disease Control recommends anyone between the ages of 13-64 get tested for HIV at least once as a routine health measure,” said Tina Clark, the director of nursing for the Scotland County Health Department.
Along with the HIV and AIDS diagnoses, the health department has also seen an increase in the number of people diagnosed with syphilis, one of the more common STDs that causes sores to appear on people’s genitals.
“We have seen co-diagnoses with HIV and syphilis and you can see that both diseases are rising,” said Kristine Patterson, health director for the Scotland County Health Department.
Health officials are still frequently treating high school and college aged individuals with chlamydia — 284 cases in 2015, the same amount as reported in 2014. This particular disease is curable, but can lead to infertility if left untreated.
Another STD effecting those between the ages of 15 and 24 is gonorrhea, which saw a decrease in the number of cases from 98 in 2014 to 73 in 2015, according to health department officials.
“You can limit contracting these STDs by practicing protected sex, having one monogamous partner, or abstaining from sexual contact,” Clark said.
Dr. Magid Labib, a veterinarian and board member, said the health department needs to concentrate on the highest effected age groups, those 15-24.
“You have to go into the neighborhoods, they are not going to come to you,” Patterson said. “The ones we want to come in, they aren’t going to, you have to go to them to educate.”
The Scotland County Health Department is mandated to offer free sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing/treatment to any citizen that requests the service. Clients may be tested for gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, herpes, and HIV. Other screening examinations are available for genital warts, bacterial vaginosis, yeast, candidiasis and non-gonococcal urethritis.
STD services are by appointment Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m — with the exception of the first and third Friday afternoon.
The health department is also expecting to receive flu vaccines as early as next week.