AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - The city of Amarillo is taking a non-traditional approach to its ongoing battle of rising STDs.
One doctor says, "We have reached a decisive moment for the nation," as STD rates reach a record high in the United States. And though Amarillo is proving the case is similar here, officials are going to greater heights to try and stop it.
In the entire year of 2015, the city of Amarillo documented 48 cases of Syphilis. We are at the end of October, and there have already been 70 cases reported.
This is of course, concerning for Amarillo public health officials. Though the exact answer as to why cannot be given, they have an idea.
"We've seen an increase in the use of apps to find sex partners and we've also seen an increase in anonymous sex and those together, have created this increase," says Public Health Director Casie Stoughton.
Especially considering 50 percent of people using these apps are 18-25, the Department of Public health has gone all hands on deck trying to educate, test, and offer multiple resources for the people of Amarillo.
Some other methods, however are a bit unorthodox.
"They do field testing and so if someone is less comfortable about coming into the health department, or even group settings, so we've been invited to swingers clubs, fetish parties, adult book stores, we'll go anywhere that we're invited and provide testing in those events or just to individual clients even," says Stoughton.
The department has also created an HIV outreach team.
But they do a lot more than test for HIV. They also test for the major STDs, including syphilis.
"We've increased our testing, and so if you look for disease, you find it and so since we have definitely increased our testing, we're also finding more cases which is great because we're getting people treated, we're getting more awareness out there...but it has driven those numbers up," says Stoughton.
If you suspect something is wrong, you are asked to get tested and speak with a doctor. But what Stoughton says is a fool proof idea...
"Correct and consistent use of latex condoms every time you have sex, you've got to use a condom. It is so very important to protect yourself."
You can get this testing done at the public health building during regular business hours, or request someone come to you.