Live chat with Washington County Chief Health Officer William Christoffel - transcript

August 09, 2005

The Herald-Mail will present a live chat with Washington County Commissoner Jim Kercheval starting at 1:00 pm and ending at 2:00 pm today. Questions or comments can be submitted by clicking here before and during the chat.

The text of the live discussion will flow into the bottom of this page during its live hour. You can either click "Refresh" on your browser window or hit "F5" on your keyboard to see new responses. Make sure you scroll down to see the latest answers.

Name: Brenda

Location: Hancock

Guest: Christoffel

Question: There seems to be an increase in Hepatitis C. What is the WCHD doing to address this problem? Do you offer free testing? what treatment options are there?

Christoffel: Washington County, like other localities throughout the country, have experienced a substantial increase in Hepatitis C. Several years ago, we tried to start at the Health Department a Hep C Clinic similar to the one operated by the Frederick County Health Department. Unfortunately, we did not have the resources necessary to cover the cost of the laboratory tests and other medical exams that are required for treating Hep C. There are no free tests in the county available for diagnosing Hep C. There has been substantial progress made in the treatment of this disease, or rather in controlling this disease. Pegasus, a pharmacuetical co., has been very effective in treating Hep C, but its annual cost could be over 30K a year per client. Right now I would recommend if one is concerned about having Hepatitic C to contact either Dr. Redmond's clinic at the Frederick County Health Department or Johns Hopkins University. The best way to avoid contracting Hep C is to refrain from intravenous drug use, and not getting a tattoo.


Moderator: Isn't teaching children about sex really a job for their parents? Why should the government intrude into family life in this way?

Christoffel: Without a doubt the most effective method in reducing teenage pregnancy is by having a strong relationship between parents and their children. Unfortunately, they cannot do this alone. We live in a very complex society with a lot of pressures on our teens. In developing our agenda for addressing teenage pregnancy, we have identified three focal points: The first is to assist the parents in talking with their teens about becoming sexually active. The second is to increase access to services for the teens, and the third is to expand the programs currently offerend through the school system to educate the teens, not only on avoiding pregnancy, but also the consequences of sexually-transmitted diseases. In California, a state that went from having the highest teenage birth rate to the 8th lowest, they've place a great deal of emphasis on helping the parents be parents, helping the parents communicate with their adolescents about sexual activities, how to handle peer pressure, and developing goals and objectives for their life. This was one of three areas used by the state to successfully reduce their teenage pregnancy rate. One of the points that they use was to remind parents that their actions speak louder than their words.

In the past several months, I have talked to many community groups including the Council of Churches, and several service organizations. In all my presentations, I have asked the audience to see what they can do, not only in their homes but in their communities, to strengthen and support parents. It is important that parents assume responsibility of being a parent instead of a friend to their child.

Moderator: You have previously criticized the school system for not updating its Family Life curriculum to reflect the reality of 2005. Have they done so yet and what other changes, in your opinion, need to be made there?

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