A County Council member and a Board of Education member in a memorandum Tuesday asked about the feasibility of expanding planned-contraceptive distribution to all high schools in the County.
County Council member George Leventhal (D-At Large) and Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education member Jill Ortman-Fouse (At Large) wrote on Tuesday that they would like to know more about the County’s plan to make contraceptives available at wellness centers.
“We believe students and parents should be educated on the recent surge in STI cases, risk behaviors and why the distribution of condoms is both a prudent and necessary precaution to prevent the spread of these infections,” Ortman-Fouse and Leventhal wrote: “Accordingly, we would like to better understand the interagency strategy to inform students and parents of the risk of STIs and the ramifications if we don’t take immediate, concrete measures to address this now.”
The County wrote in a news release earlier this month that County departments plan to make contraceptives such as condoms available at County wellness centers, in response to the increase in STIs.
“In 2017, there were 50 cases of primary and secondary syphilis – a 51.5% increase from 2016 – and 144 cases of early syphilis, an 84.6% increase from 2016,” according to a County news release dated Aug. 6.
The County reported 4,029 cases of chlamydia in 2017, an increase of 17.5 percent from 2016. The number of gonorrhea cases has increased to 726 cases, or 29 percent– nearly twice the percentage (15 percent) increase in the number of cases reported in Maryland.
Wellness centers are located at four County high schools. Leventhal and Ortman-Fouse said they wanted contraceptives such as condoms to become available at all high schools rather than only four. They also requested information about the feasibility of further expanding the availability to middle schools, either at select schools or universally.
“We understand that the County’s Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) intends to offer condoms to students at the four school-based wellness centers as part of a comprehensive strategy to address this public health crisis,” they wrote. “However, we would like to see access expanded beyond these four schools to all high schools in the County, as has been done in Baltimore City and Dorchester County.”