Yakima County working to combat high STI rates - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima County working to combat high STI rates

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YAKIMA, WA - Yakima County is working to combat its high STI rates, and local specialists say this issue can be improved through education and awareness.

According to the Department of Health, as of September, Yakima County had reported over 1,200 cases of chlamydia during 2016, which is 55% higher than the state average.

Other STIs showed high rates in the area as well, and Planned Parenthood Education Program Manager Vanessa Cervantes says this is because of misunderstandings regarding STI risks.

"Definitely, there's a lack of knowledge in our community that we see on a day-to-day basis," she says. "So, going out in the community, often people have a myth that you are protected from sexually transmitted infections with birth control. So, there's no birth control on the market that can protect you from a sexually transmitted infection. Only barrier methods."

Cervantes says some reasons this misinformation is so common here are because many Yakima schools do not teach comprehensive sex education, and that there is also a cultural stigma regarding conversations about sex in many conservative communities.

Because of this, she and other public educators are working hard to go out into the community and educate on safe sex practices and answer any questions people may have.