TEMPLE - Sexually transmitted diseases in Bell County are on the rise with higher rates than Texas' biggest cities, including Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.
According to the most recent report, in 2015, Bell County had the second highest gonorrhea rate and third highest rate of chlamydia in the state of Texas.
"We have a population that’s heavily infected," said Lacey Sanders, epidemiologist in Bell County. "We have a large disease threshold in our community.”
For the past five years the numbers have been consistent. In 2008, Bell County had 1,191 cases of Gonorrhea. In 2015, there were 1,180 cases.
The same goes for Chlamydia. In 2008, there were 3,167 cases of Chlamydia. While in 2015, there were 3,833 cases.
Bell County residents like Stacey Wolbrueck say it's concerning.
"It's shocking because Temple is not very big so to have those numbers is shocking.”
Stacey is a mother of three who says she's made sure her children are aware of the consequences of unprotected sex.
Sanders says children often have misconceptions about sexually transmitted diseases.
"My 14-year-old made a comment that she was under the impression that HIV was treatable," said Sanders.
Alan Howell with the infectious diseases department at Baylor Scott & White says that our bodies are growing resistant to the medications used to treat such diseases.
"It’s really concerning because as it stands right now that’s kind of our last option for treatment for that particular infection," said Howell.
Howell said that while the growing resistance is a concern, there is a new medicine they are looking at, which looks promising, but not guaranteed.
Doctors say protection and education are the key to stopping the spread of STDs. Here are some resources for anyone to use in Bell County.
STD Testing Locations:
Bell County Public Health District, Clinical Services
509 S 9th St, Temple, TX 76504
309 N 2nd St, Killeen, TX 76541
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