Health Department Backs State Prostitution Bill

Article excerpt

A dramatic spread of sexually transmitted disease associated with prostitution has led officials with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department to endorse a Senate bill that would increase the fines for prostitution.

Prostitution and related activities such as illegal drug use and alcohol abuse have a significant negative impact upon public health and contribute to the overall poor health of Oklahomans, according to Paul Dungan, director of Oklahoma City-County Health Department.

About 125 people each week request evaluation or treatment for sexually transmitted diseases through the Oklahoma City-County Health Department's Sexually Transmitted Disease clinic. One out of every four of these clients test positive for one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (syphilis, gonorrhea or chlamydia). Syphilis, the most potentially devastating of the three, was diagnosed once out of every 25 clients seen in the clinic. That ratio has caused Oklahoma City to be ranked the sixth highest in the country for syphilis cases among cities with similar population demographics, according to Dungan.

A study of how clinic patients report being exposed to sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis, has shown an association with prostitution.

Senate Bill 1502, authored by Sen. Keith Leftwich and Rep. Al Lindley, both D-Oklahoma City, proposes to raise the maximum available fine for prostitution to $7,500 for a prostitute's third offense and $6,000 for a customer's third offense.

According to Dungan, any opportunity to remove easy access to high-risk behavior enhances the likelihood that public health efforts will be successful in preventing disease. Senate Bill 1502, if passed, has the potential to make great strides toward removing prostitution from our streets and consequently exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, he said.

Oklahoma Board of Nursing

The state of Oklahoma is now allowing nurses to renew their licenses on the Internet and employers to conduct online license verification through the Oklahoma Board of Nursing's new Web site.

The service can be found at www.YourOklahoma.com and is a result of a public-private partnership between the agency and NIC USA.

This year, the board expects to renew nearly 31,000 nursing professionals, more than half of the state's 48,000 licensed nurses.

According to Kim Glazier, executive director of the Oklahoma Board of Nursing, the goal of the online renewal service is to save Oklahoma's nurses time by speeding up what is currently a paper- intensive process.

"Nurses can benefit a great deal by using the Internet to instantly renew their licenses," Glazier said. "With this system, licensees can take care of their renewal transactions in the manner that best meets their needs, rather than having to conform to regular business hours or spend time filling out and mailing in paperwork. We've had numerous requests for this service, particularly from nurses who live and work outside of Oklahoma City, so we made creating this service a priority."

Nursing professionals need only be prepared with the renewal notice they receive in the mail and a credit card. A typical online renewal takes about five minutes to complete.

In addition to offering online license renewals, organizations that employ nurses will now be able to quickly conduct license verifications through the site as well.

Contact

Contact Crisis Helpline of Oklahoma City has been awarded accreditation of its helpline by Contact USA, a national organization and network of telephone helpline and crisis intervention centers in the United States.

Formal recognition of certification will occur at the Contact USA National Conference in May.

OU Physicians

Darren W. Goff, of Edmond, has joined the staff of the OU Physicians Women's Health Center. Goff, an obstetrician/ gynecologist, specializes in complex laparoscopic hysterectomies for large women as well as other obstetric and gynecological services. …