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Rates of sexually transmitted infection in Colorado have been on the rise in recent years, prompting the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to work with local public health agencies in various counties outside the Denver metro area, including Clear Creek, to help fund testing and more.
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Because of these rises, the Clear Creek County Public Health Department and CDPHE will host a free STI testing event from 3 to 7 p.m. June 27 at the Clear Creek Health and Wellness Center in Idaho Springs.
The goal of the event is to “bring in resources from the area so that community members know what services exist in their county, or city,” said Gerardo Orozco-Pacheco, prevention and field services regional supervisor at CDPHE. Andrea Grohmann, a public health nurse with the county, said the event itself came about because of STI rates rising in Colorado and the state having money for outreach.
Clear Creek is hosting one of these outreaches because it has been no exception to this increase, as the county saw a rise in gonorrhea rates last year and syphilis this year, according to Orozco-Pacheco. Referencing a CDC study on Colorado STI rates from 2015-2019, he saidchlamydia also had increased by 24%, gonorrhea by 118% and syphilis by 158% across the state.
Orozco-Pacheco said that having more regional disease intervention specialists — public health professionals who work to stop the spread of infections — has helped him have more capacity to work with local public health agencies, getting to know their needs better and decrease these STI rates.
“One of my goals is to better advocate for these local public health agencies outside of the Denver metro area so that they can have more sustainable funding in the future,” he continued. When asked about testing becoming permanently free, Orozco-Pacheco said knowing what counties have higher incidents would allow the state to possibly provide and sustain testing services.
He clarified that Clear Creek is not one of those counties most in need, though, saying Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins were more concerning. They will roll out possible free testing gradually, he continued, looking at data, and “putting out the bigger fires first.”
Grohmann elaborated that there is a program in the works to bring monthly free HIV testing to the county through the Boulder County AIDS project. There’s also another STI testing program from the state called Beat Boxes that allows self-testing and free postage for sending in results to a lab.
The event will include free food, drinks, prizes and nurses like Grohmann around to educate on STIs and prevention.
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