Known for its national parks and wilderness areas, In 2013 Arkansas was found itself on a less desirable list. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ranked it as #6 state for STD infection (Louisiana was #1 followed by Mississippi and Georgia). The CDC ranked the state’s infection rates 7th for Chlamydia, 7th for Gonorrhea, 9th for Syphilis.
These recent statistics show the growth in STD cases and the importance of being tested for STDs. Some additional statistics that highlight the concern in young adult’s especially young women as collected by the CDC and the Department of Health include:
- In 2013, an estimated 384 adults and adolescents were diagnosed with HIV in the state, which was ranked 27th among the 50 states in the number of HIV diagnoses in 2013.
- Reported rates of chlamydia among women (755.3 cases per 100,000) that were 2.7 times greater than those among men (283.3 cases per 100,000).
- In 2013 among state high school students, 50.3 percent had ever had sexual intercourse, of those 55.1 percent did not use a condom during last sexual intercourse.
Facts and charts like these are increasing the awareness in your community of the importance of regular STD testing and how it can help limit the spread of these infections.
Arkansas is one of the states that do not have a state law requiring sexuality education. Local school boards decide whether or not to instruct about sex ed, which areas this education program is designed to cover and the grade level in which subjects are introduced. If sexuality education is part of the district’s education program, then abstinence must be covered and stressed as the only completely effective protection against sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancy, and HIV/AIDS.
School-based health clinics are allowed to prescribe and distribute contraceptives as long as they are provides with written parental consent; but monies provided by the state may not use to purchase condoms or contraceptives. Teaching about the various types of contraceptives, such as the Pill or condoms, is permitted, but not required. You do not need your parents’ permission to participate in sexuality education or HIV/AIDS education classes.
Online dating services are becoming a more and more popular and an increasing number of young adults consider dating websites an acceptable place to meet potential partners. As dating sites such as OK Cupid and Tinder continue to rise in popularity and accessibility on smart phones, this is leading to an increase in new cases of STDs. This has led to some educators to suggest these outlets should do more to spread information relating to safe sex practices.
Recent research on comprehensive sexuality education has shown that young people who receive complete and accurate information about condoms, abstinence, and contraception were not more likely to be sexually active or be infected by an STD, but were dramatically less likely to be involved in teen pregnancy. They learn that along with regular HIV testing, Herpes testing is very important since viral infections such as Herpes can be transmitted through asymptomatic casual contact with someone that has no visible symptoms.
According to the 2010 United States Census, Arkansas population was 2,915,918, with 77.0 percent white non-Hispanics and 15.4 percent black. Arkansas, like most other Southern states, is part of the Bible Belt and is predominantly Protestant, with the largest denomination being Baptist. The median age is 37 years old, the estimated median household income in 2015 was $40,059 and the poverty rate was 19.2. The state had an uninsured rate of 22.5 percent in 2013.
The state is part of what is considered the “Deep South” which also has some of the highest levels of poverty and uninsured individuals, factors that contribute to and complicate the prevention and treatment of STDs. When compared with other areas of the United States, the Deep South ranks poorly on many health indicators such as obesity in addition to the rate STD cases. A significant factor that also effects young adults is the social acceptance of sexual activity combined with the use of alcohol and drugs, both of which hinders your ability to choose safe sexual practices.
With a very religious population, a high poverty rate and a low rate of health insurance coverage, the population of the state is at risk for STD infections. When citizens have few health care options even severe health issues go unaddressed for a long periods of time. These factors all combine to result in high STD rates.
Arkansas is a great place to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, and the population has a reputation for independent spirit. The high rate of STDs shows that you need to be aware and tested on a regular basis. You should not worry about passing something on to a partner, or the thoughts of spending hours waiting to be seen at a free STD clinic keep you from STD testing. There is a choice that lets you make an appointment for same day STD testing, avoid the hassles and save precious time. Invest 20 minutes for your health and the health of the ones you love, then get out and enjoy new experiences like a hot bath at Hot Springs National Park.