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USF wins grant in sex disease fight

The University of South Florida has been designated as the federal government's Southeastern education center for sexually transmitted diseases, and it has received a $1.5-million grant to go with it.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named USF the new Southeastern STD/HIV Prevention Training Center, replacing the University of Alabama at Birmingham. It is one of 10 regional centers in the nation.

The grant will allow USF to extend its training program for doctors, nurses, caseworkers and other public health officials in seven Southeastern states during the next five years.

Florida's STD Prevention Training Center was established in 1988 by USF's Division of Infectious Diseases, the Florida Department of Health and the Hillsborough County Public Health Unit.

At the time, Florida had the nation's highest rate of syphilis, which since has dropped from 64 cases per 100,000 people to two. The state now has the lowest rate in the South.

The center also has trained nearly 6,000 health practitioners across the state on how to diagnose and treat syphilis, gonorrhea, pelvic inflammatory disease, genital herpes, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.