Delaware Division of Public Health to Expand Its STD Lab to Curb Raising Rates

Raising cases of new STD infections in Delaware are causing alarm leading to increased need to improve prevention campaigns.

The Division of Public Health in Delaware has introduced plans to increase STD testing and screening to help deal with the rising number of STDs that are getting harder and harder to treat leading to higher rates of transmission.

The division is making plans to start outsourcing the screening of newborn babies and enhance its STD lab to test and treat more people.

New babies have been receiving screening at the division lab in Smyrna. This screening will now be done by other clinics. All newborns in Delaware are tested for 47 medical conditions including thyroid disease and fibrosis.

The state was among the first ones to require that newborns are screened. The program has been running for about 55 years now and about 25,000 specimens are screened annually.

More Time and Money for Venereal Diseases

The newly enhanced STI lab will screen samples from hospitals, clinics and high school wellness centres all over the state of Delaware.

The new lab will see more time and money spent by the state to test sexually transmitted infections caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites.

Delaware has been testing STIs to establish how often STIs are occurring and which of these infections are evolving. The lab performs about 40,000 venereal tests every year. The new lab hopes to increase this number significantly.

STD Rates Increasing Rapidly

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the number of STDs reported across the US in 2016 were more than those in 2015.

New cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea in Delaware have been increasing since 2009. The state ranked 15th highest in the US for chlamydia and 13th highest for gonorrhea. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the most commonly reported STIs in the country.

Teenagers between the years of 14 and 17 are reporting increased STI rates. This is because young adults in Delaware are reportedly more sexually active than other teenagers in the US.

The state has thus been using School Based Health Centers in its public high schools to increase access to STD testing for teenagers. These centres are funded by state and federal. Nurses from nearby hospitals are the ones who do the tests at these centres.

There are 29 School Based Health Centers in Delaware. The state requires consent from parents before the centres can perform any of their services.

When a student visits the school nurse and the nurse suspects the student may be infected with an STI, they refer them to the wellness center where samples from their genitals are taken and sent to the state lab for testing.

The centres are important because many teenagers are shying away from going to STD clinics for testing. The sooner an STD is diagnosed the sooner treatment can be administered increasing chances of getting rid of the infection before they cause any complications.

Most of the common STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis can be easily treated using antibiotics. However, most cases go undiagnosed for long making them more difficult to treat and keep being passed on to more people.