STD Test Statistics in Massachusetts
Primary and secondary syphilis remain a health problem primarily among men who have sex with men. A small percentage of infections come from congenital transmission from infected mothers to their unborn children-only 8 cases were reported from congenital transmission statewide in 2015. The syphilis rate is 3.6 per 100,000 making Massachusetts 14th of 50 states.
We ranked 41st out of 50 states for chlamydial infections; the rate was 349 per 100,000.Reported rates of chlamydia among women were two times greater than those among men.
For gonorrhea infections, the state ranks 41st out of 50.
TB statistics placed us 12th among 50 states with three cases per 100,000. 79% of tuberculosis occurred in foreign born persons.
Hepatitis A has hit the lowest recorded rates due to very effective vaccination program. Between 2009 and 2013:
- Hepatitis A has decreased by 45%
- Hepatitis B increased by 267%
- Hepatitis C increased by 1200%
The rates of Hep B & C are high in comparison to the national statistics.
Mass. ranked 14th out of 50 states in the number of HIV diagnosis in 2013 with an estimated 992 diagnosed in a year. HIV transmission occurs most frequently in men who have sex with men followed by heterosexual transmission and then transmission through IV drug use.
Sexual Health Education and STI Testing
In 2015 Planned Parenthood and NARAL pro-choice pushed through a bill requiring school districts to teach medically accurate and age-appropriate sexual education. Public schools in the state need to pick a curriculum that adheres to the state standards ensuring that abstinence- only education, which is not an effective way of reducing unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, is no longer the only thing being taught. Instead curriculum will also discuss contraception, safe sexual activity, relationship forming skills, and sexual abuse.
Local parents argued the parts of the curriculum did not feel age-appropriate to them, however they have been given the option to have their children opt-out of these classes. Given that STD rates are higher in the younger population it makes sense that this new way of educating our youth should help to decrease these numbers. It is the hopes of educators and health-care professionals that by having sexual health as part of the ongoing curriculum, the open discussion of sex will normalize it, taking stigma out of visiting a clinic for contraception or testing.
This can certainly play a role in keeping people from being tested in small communities like the ones that dot the state. Education is our best weapon in removing the stigma from sexual health-care.
In 2013, 64% of chlamydia cases and 43% of gonorrhea cases were reported in adolescents and young adults (ages 15-24). From 2010 to 2012, HIV infection diagnoses among adolescents and young adults: white (non-Hispanic) (34%) black(non-Hispanic) (33%) Hispanic/Latino (27%), and other (5%). Statistics prove that compared to adults, sexually active adolescents run a higher risk for acquiring sexually transmitted infections because of a combination of behavioral, biological, and cultural factors.
Demographics Play a Role in STD Rates
The state has a total population of 6.5 million people.
- 80% are white.
- 9% are Hispanic.
- 6% are black.
- 5% are Asian.
- 6% is a combination of other races or two or more races combined.
The average age is 38 years old for men and 40 for women. The sexually-transmitted disease surveillance report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed higher rates reported of STDs among some racial or ethnic minority groups when compared to their white counterparts. Racial and ethnic markers go hand-in-hand with other determinants of health status such as poverty, unemployment, and low education.
In Massachusetts populations of color represent only 25% and yet to these communities bear a disproportionate number of STDs.
- 46% of syphilis.
- 61% of gonorrhea.
- 59% of chlamydia.
The poverty rates among Boston’s native born (21%) and foreign born (23.3%) and elderly (21%). Health providers know that disease spreads more rapidly in conditions of poverty and local outreach targets those populations as well as other at-risk populations like those with addiction or mental illness.
Staying Healthy with STD Testing
With recent changes to both our health-care system and the way that people here are thinking about educating our youth around sexual health, it has never been so important to begin the discussion about taking charge of your own sexual health. Current local testing options include:
- same day booked on-line
- privately by appointment
- entirely anonymously with no ID required
- home swab kits mailed in to the lab
Myths that can keep you from getting tested include:
- My physician will tell me if I need to be tested.
- I don’t need to be tested if I don’t have any symptoms.
- I am monogamous.
- I always use condoms.
- Only promiscuous people get STDs.
- I can’t have an STD- I’ve only had one partner.
Remember, having sex with someone is like sleeping with every partner they have ever had- it’s better to error on the side of caution!
Sexual health means all citizens are equally entitled to have education, testing, diagnosis and treatment despite their financial and racial background. Check with the Massachusetts State Department of Health or CDC websites to find and access facilities in your neighborhood.