Officials with the Vermilion County Health Department continue to watch the statistics regarding sexually transmitted diseases, and with good reason.

Due to cuts in state funding, the Vermilion County Health Department had to close programs and reduce personnel, including its free clinic to test and treat residents with sexually transmitted diseases.

Since the clinic closed, health officials say they see an increase in reports of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia from other sources.

Although local officials do not draw a direct link between the close of the health department’s free clinic and the increase in STD reports, they do admit a bit of concern regarding the numbers.

With the clinic open, health department personnel could track patients and their partners closely, allowing officials to concentrate prevention efforts in places where they could be the most effective.

Relying on reports from secondary sources strips away some of that specific information. And, with resources limited by the cut back in state funding, the lack of specific information comes at a time when the most efficient use of limited resources is most important.

If early trends continue, health officials at the state level will need to reevaluate where funds are being spent. An outbreak of STDs can affect many more people than just those infected, especially if treatment options are limited.

Local health officials are aware of the potential problem and stand ready to step in. Now state officials must be able to give them the ability to do so effectively.

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