STD Numbers Rising at Alarming Rate in Ector County, ECISD Getting Involved

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

ECTOR COUNTY- Ector County has a serious problem with sexually transmitted diseases but hardly anyone is talking about it.

Gino Solla with the Ector County Health Department says, "It's been a sensitive topic that's not easily addressed in this area."

The health rankings for Ector County show that the numbers are rising. Each year, the county has had about 70 newly diagnosed cases.

Solla says, "We have seen an increase in the last couple of years on Chlamydia and Gonorrhea."

Between January and March of 2011, the health department found 15 cases of Gonorrhea and 37 cases of Chlamydia. Between January and March of 2012, those numbers about doubled with 38 cases of Gonorrhea and 65 of Chlamydia.

The vast majority of the health department's STD patients are high schoolers and 20-something year-old people but some patients are even younger.

"We've had 13 year-olds come in before," Solla said.

As alarming as that is, not many people seem to be speaking up. That was the consensus amongst the students NewsWest 9 spoke to at Odessa College.

"There's no one talking about it because in all reality, who wants to talk about it?" One student said.

"We don't really talk about STD's on campus. We just go on with our lives," Another student said.

A different student said, "I don't really hear much about it. People don't really talk about it much."

The health department says the community can no longer turn a blind eye to it.

"We're sending our kids out into the battle and war of sexually transmitted diseases that are out there," Solla said.

The Ector County Health Department is teaming up with Ector County Independent School District to hold a forum at both Odessa High School and Permian High School currently scheduled for May 17th.

Shawn Bell is the ECISD Executive Director of Instructional Support Services. He says, "There will be three physicians present to answer any questions and it will be done in a very dignified and private manner."

A presentation will also be made and students can anonymously submit questions on note cards to be answered by health professionals. ECISD says they're trying to tackle the problem here but they also believe it's really no worse here than anywhere else.

"I think it's a concern anywhere in our society and in any public school district in the state of Texas and beyond," Bell said.