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Report: high rates of sexually transmitted diseases among arrestees

July 12, 2011

A new report indicates high rates of sexually transmitted diseases among arrestees in Maricopa County.

The report, conducted in partnership between the Arizona Arrestee Reporting Information Network (AARIN) and ASU’s Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety, indicates alarming rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea infection among the arrestee population.

The findings indicate that the STD infection among the arrestee population is significantly higher than the general population of Maricopa County. Male arrestees were 23.7 times more likely than the general population to be infected with chlamydia and 54.4 times more likely to be infected with gonorrhea. Female arrestees were infected with chlamydia at a rate 14.5 times the general population and were 80.6 times more likely to be infected with gonorrhea.

Left untreated, these STDs can lead to serious infections, infertility and neonatal transference. If identified early, both chlamydia and gonorrhea can be treated with antibiotics. Given that many arrestees are unemployed and do not have health insurance, early intervention may help to reduce costs and treat the problem. If the problem isn’t addressed, indigent care services will pick up a larger tab when the untreated health consequences become more severe.

“Aggressively diagnosing and treating sexually transmitted diseases in our community is an important Public Health duty. This study by AARIN has provided much needed statistical data identifying the large affected population passing through the Maricopa County jail system. It is the hope of Correctional Health Services and the Public Health Department to use this report to provide better understanding of where to focus diminishing public funds. We must use tax payer dollars in the most logical and efficient manner in order to make any significant progress in decreasing STDs in our community as a whole,” says Bob England, director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, and Jeffrey Alvarez of Maricopa County’s Correctional Health Services.

“The ongoing relationship between Maricopa County and ASU has once again benefited the community at large. Criminal justice policymakers in Maricopa County expressed the need for understanding the STD problem among arrestees. They were concerned that arrestees might represent a high-risk group for some health outcomes. After several meetings we concluded that the AARIN project was an excellent vehicle for collecting information on STDs from the arrestee population. The policymakers were correct. Hopefully this information will be used to target resources on this high risk group to contain health care costs and to reduce STDs in the county,” says Charles Katz, Watts Family Director for ASU’s Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety.

“The AARIN project clearly demonstrates Maricopa County’s and ASU’s commitment to collaborate together to proactively diagnose criminal justice related problem in the county and work together to identify the (existing or needed) infrastructure that is needed to address the problem,” says Katz.

To read the report, visit For more information about the AARIN Project and ASU’s Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety, visit our website at For questions related to this AARIN-Alert, contact the Watts Family Director of the Center, Charles Katz at (602) 496-1471, or the associate director, David Choate at (602) 496-1473,