Statistics recently released by the CDC and Buncombe County Health Department show an alarming trend in the city’s STD rates. Over the past twenty years the number of sexually transmitted infections has been steadily rising, especially in teens and young adults. While HIV rates have fallen slightly in the last three years, the same is not true for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis.
The recent statistics also indicate that not all residents are equally affected. Adults ages 20 to 24 are among those with the highest risk for contracting any of the STDs. African Americans are also more likely to contract a sexually transmitted disease, especially Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. Men are more than twice as likely to test positive for Gonorrhea, Syphilis and HIV, while women have a greater chance of contracting Chlamydia.
While the county might not have one of the highest STD rates in the state, health officials point out that this is mainly due to its lower population. If the percentage of residents that test positive for a sexually transmitted disease is compared to the number of people that reside in the county, the rate of infection is actually higher than some of the other averages in the state.
This means that regular STI testing is important for everyone. Some of the other statistics that highlight the growing STD problem in the city and surrounding county include,
- In 2014 there were 14 new cases of primary and secondary Syphilis reported compared to 6 in 2012.
- 2010 saw 198 new Gonorrhea incidents compared to 245 in 2014.
- Chlamydia rates rose from 780 cases reported in 2010 to 806 in 2014, with the majority occurring in young women.
State lawmakers recently passed a bill that made small, but significant changes to the current sex education law. While public school districts are still required to include medically accurate and scientifically proven information in their sex education classes the qualifications needed to make the decision have been dramatically relaxed. It is now up to each school district to decide who is qualified to decide which information is included in their sex education programs, and this has some health officials worried.
Now that the school districts can choose who decides which information is medically accurate health officials are worried that this will limit what students are taught. Pro-family groups are often the ones that decide on the curriculum, and in many cases this means that the information will be abstinence based. Even though it has been scientifically proven that teens and adults can still contract a STD even if they are not sexually active, this information is being taught in many of the sex education programs.
This means that students are not receiving the information they need to protect their sexual health. Many are graduating from high school not knowing how to use a condom. They also do not know that regular HIV testing in Asheville is the only way to detect the potentially deadly disease or that the simple procedure could help save their life. Most students and older residents also do not understand that regular Herpes testing in Asheville is the best way to prevent the virus from continuing to spread through area high schools.
There are several reasons why the number of sexually transmitted diseases reported each year is rising in the city and county. The lack of comprehensive sex education programs in the school districts is leaving students unprepared to deal with the risks and responsibilities that come with being sexually active. A large number of teens don’t understand how important it is to always use protection during intercourse, especially if they want to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Many also do not realize just how important it is for their sexual health to visit a STI clinic on a regular basis.
Advances in health care are making it possible for adults to stay sexually active longer, and this is contributing to the rising STD rates. Many of the area’s senior citizens have never been tested for a sexually transmitted disease, nor do they realize how important it is for their continued good health.
The area’s strong conservative beliefs are making it difficult for teens and young adults to admit that they are sexually active. Many do not know who to talk to if there is a problem with their sexual health, and even older residents are often ashamed and embarrassed when they think that they might have contracted a STD. With only a few STI clinics nearby many prefer to simply take their chances rather than risk being seen at the testing center by friends or relatives.
The number of sexually transmitted diseases reported each year is on the rise, and this means that it is important for everyone to take a few minutes to think about their sexual health. There are a few community STI facilities in the city, but many residents prefer to avoid the long lines and the risk of being seen by friends and family instead of getting tested. Now you can schedule confidential STD testing with one simple phone call, and only spend a few minutes at a local lab. This way you can take care of your sexual health and still have time to catch the sun setting over the Pisgah National Forest.