Nation celebrates Disease Intervention Specialists

Friday is the fourth annual National Disease Intervention Specialist Recognition Day.

Throughout the state, there’s only 23 individuals with DIS training. And in St. Joseph County, there is only one DIS, Melissa Murawski.

She says her job is to help all patients diagnosed, recovering from, or potentially exposed to HIV and STDs.

Any hospital can test for the diseases, but they then send the positive results to the county DIS.

Murawski says in order for her to do her job, individuals need to be tested.

“Many of these STDs are silent. They go unnoticed by people because only 50 percent of males who test positive of Gonorrhea or Chlamydia are going to know it because they’ll have a symptom. Only 50. In females it’s only one in four. So that’s 25 percent. Even less.”

The next step is to treat the patient and notify any partners to get tested.

“30,000 Chlamydia cases and 8,000 Gonorrhea cases a year. If you break that down that’s a little over 1300 Chlamydia cases per D-I-S. That doesn’t include your Gonorrhea cases, probably about 300 per D-I-S for that on top of your 1300 and that doesn’t even include your HIV and Syphilis cases.”

Here in St. Joseph County, statistics from the Indiana State Department of Health show:

286 HIV related deaths, 223 counts of Gonorrhea, 874 counts of Chlamydia, and 6 counts of syphilis, all in 2014.

But Murawski says the smaller agencies like Olive Street Health Center in South Bend will always make sure you are taken care of, regardless of finances or other restraints.

“I’d like to be completely gone of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea and all that. I’d be out of a job but I’d rather be out of a job because there’s no more STDs no more HIV.”

The Olive Street Health Center is just one of the health centers in our area where you can be tested and treated for STDs.

If you need help, check out the facilities on this website.

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