(SAVANNAH) The Hostess City is playing host to hundreds of public health leaders from across the country who are on the front line in the fight against the spread of sexually transmitted disease in the United States. The annual meeting of the National Coalition of STD Directors is being held in the Marriott Riverfront. Forty-seven of fifty STD Directors in this country are on hand, as well as other public health leaders. Bill Smith, Executive Director of the Coalition says two o f the biggest challenges facing his group are a spike in the number of people contracting a long established STD and others so new the infections do not have a street name. One in particular is limited only to it’s medical name right now, as no street name has emerged. ” Microplasm Genitalia. It is a sort of an STD that’s newly emerged on the radar screen, that can lead to both HIV acquisition and infertility among women.” Smith said. He adds that while new STD’s are a challenge, it’s an old one that is responsible for the highest number of new infections. “Really significant increases in syphilis across the country. We’re really trying to figure out what to do about that. We’ve got some tools, including, like a really quick point-of-care test to test for syphilis, which is brand new.” said Smith.
The Director of STD Prevention in Georgia says the Peach State is leading the nation in syphilis infections, but lawmakers here have taken important action to reduce the numbers in Georgia. ” House Bill 436 passed so that the third trimester screening for HIV nd syphilis could happen for pregnant women. Awesome victory! We are aware we’re number one and we’re working to get it down.” said Allen. She and Smith are hoping a new spin on an old weapon in the fight against STD’s will make a difference, that weapon is the female condom. ” Condoms are not just for guys, there fore both men and women.” Allen said. Smith says the female condom was approved for use by the FDA in 2009, but there is a real push to get more women to use them to protect themselves from STD’s and it’s a non-hormonal form of birth control that insurance should pay for. “Actually they are now covered under the Affordable Care Act, so you can go to the doctor, get a prescription for female condoms for contraception and they are covered.” said Smith. The Coalition’s annual meeting is set to wrap up Friday. More than three hundred people are attending.