clinic to open later this year in Snohomish County
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — The county's health department plans to begin operating a public clinic for sexually transmitted diseases as soon as this fall.
The clinic to test and treat these would be at 3020 Rucker Ave. in Everett.
It could reverse the level of STDs circulating in the community.
It should shorten the turnaround time that elapses from when someone tests positive to when sexual partners get notified.
"If we can get people in, we can get a test done that day and interrupt that chain of transmission," county health officer Dr. James Lewis said.
While STD rates in Snohomish County are holding steady during 2023, the caseloads are much higher than pre-pandemic levels. The state of STDs leaves Dr. Lewis neither optimistic nor pessimistic.
The department already refers people to a partnering clinic. For low-income people, it funds treatments in the name of public health.
Lewis said the plan is to waive clinic testing fees for those who can't pay.
The department is also brainstorming setting up mobile clinic services to reach people who have trouble getting to health services.
The in-house clinic will open as soon as October. It hasn't offered these services in more than 10 years due to shrinking budgets.
"We're staffing up, we have a position open for a nurse practitioner," Lewis said in a mid-July interview.
State legislators gave $975,000 in the latest state budget to kickstart its clinic. They were prodded by a late 2022 workgroup report on controlling rising STD rates statewide.
Last year, Snohomish County saw 94 cases of syphilis. In 2021, it saw 2,309 cases of chlamydia and 797 cases of gonorrhea.
Chlamydia is easily treatable. Gonorrhea, nicknamed the clap, is treatable, too.
Syphilis is the more alarming bacterial infection, and that's doubled from 45 cases in 2019 to 94 last year.
Syphilis has been heavily disproportionate among men who have sex with men.
But women who have sex with men aren't in the clear: Health officials are seeing more women who have sex with men getting syphilis.
It's intertwined to cases of mothers passing syphilis down to their newborn babies. The county saw two cases of newborns with syphilis last year, and has one confirmed case this year, Lewis said. 2022 broke a streak of five years with no such cases.
Three-fourths of those who had congenital syphilis had none or inadequate prenatal care, says the 2022 state report calling to control the rise of STDs. Almost one-third of those were mothers who use drugs. In many of the overall cases, they found out after getting tested while in jail.
The results can be awful and profound: Babies can have serious health consequences such as intellectual disabilities, blindness and deafness.
Nationwide, the trendline of congenital syphilis has been increasing since 2015.
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