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STD's gone wild - New York City borough, the Bronx has highest rates of double STD infection

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 6th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In the working class neighborhood of the Bronx, in New York City, words of abstinence coupled with the offer of free condoms have made no difference in the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. The local health department says that HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, gonorrhea, syphilis, Chlamydia and tuberculosis are all epidemic in Tremont and portions of Crotona, Belmont and Claremont. The area with the zip code of 10457 is swimming with disease.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - in fact, the 10457 ZIP code has the highest number of people afflicted by two of the following conditions: HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, gonorrhea, syphilis, Chlamydia and tuberculosis. All seven diseases are epidemic in 10457, with infection rates for all conditions in the top 20 percent of cases citywide.

To be fair, the Bronx has the highest number of ZIP codes at 70 percent, where residents are in the top 20 percent for at least two diseases. In Manhattan, 45 percent of ZIP codes have two-disease rates in the top 20 percent, compared to 25 percent of Queens ZIPs and 22 percent in Brooklyn.

"It's very disturbing, especially for our community," Tom Murray, director of community affairs for St. Barnabas Hospital says. "The teenagers are engaging in very risky behavior. They think AIDS is a thing of the past."

The area's high poverty rate contributes to the disproportionate number battling two or more serious diseases. Roughly 70,000 people live in the 10457 ZIP code where the median household income is $24,537. Some 43 percent of Tremont/Crotona residents live below the poverty line compared a poverty rate of 21 percent citywide.

"While this is a disappointment, it's not a surprise," Community Board 6 District Manager Ivine Galarza says.

In lieu of curtailing their own behavior, residents there are blaming officials.

 "I'm afraid," 32-year-old Yolanda Smith says. "The government needs to do something about it."

An elderly disabled veteran who lives here is calling for more activities and education for young people. "The main problem with venereal disease is a lack of information," he said. "We have a lot of billboards about cigarettes and beer. Why are there no billboards about AIDS?"

It's not as if condoms aren't available, said one shop owner. It's just that people aren't using them.

"I got a lot of condoms," one shop manager says. "Nobody's asking for condoms. When the hospital came and gave out the free condoms, I left them here. Nobody took them."

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