According to statistics released by the CDC and Athens-Clark County Health Department the number of sexually transmitted diseases reported annually is rising, and has been for the past twenty years. The recent statistics also show that STDs are rising in teens and adults, and not just in college students.
For several years the rising STD rate has been blamed primarily on the large number of college students that live in the city, but the latest data indicates that this is not necessarily true. In 2013 the county reported one of the highest Chlamydia rates in the state for teens ages 13 to 19. While Gonorrhea, Syphilis and HIV percentages are still below state averages, health officials warn that this is likely to change unless everyone understands how important regular STD testing is for their continued good health.
Women are among those with the highest risk for contracting Chlamydia, especially those under the age of 24. Gonorrhea also affects more women than men, and statistics show that the percentage of those infected are rising. The good news is that Gonorrhea rates are finally starting to decrease in men, and local health officials are hopeful that this means HIV and Syphilis percentages will also decrease.
Some of the other recent statistics that highlight the growing need for regular STI testing include,
- In 2014 the Chlamydia rate for the county was reported at 806.2 percent for 100,000 residents, compared to the state’s at 534.
- The HIV rate for the area in 2014 was reported at 288.7 per 100,000 people.
- In 2014 the city reported a Gonorrhea rate of 148.3 per 100,000 residents with the majority of cases occurring in young women.
Even though STD and teen pregnancy rates are rising the state still does not require its public school districts to offer comprehensive sex education classes to students at any grade level. While the state does follow federal law and mandates that all public school districts must provide students with information on HIV prevention, the classes rarely provide teens with the skills and knowledge they need to avoid STDs and unplanned pregnancies. This alone is one of the main contributing factors to the city’s high rate of sexually transmitted infections.
Since students are not receiving the information they need to adequately protect themselves from STDs they are potentially putting everyone’s health at risk, including their own. Sexually transmitted diseases can be spread through a variety of methods, and this can make it easier for these viruses to be passed onto others. Not all STDs display immediate signs and symptoms, and this makes it possible for others to spread a transmittable disease without even realizing it.
While students are encouraged to practice abstinence, and this will effectively prevent pregnancies, it does little to stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Teaching students about the importance of regular Herpes testing in Athens is the best way to stop this contagious virus from infecting others. This also applies to regular HIV testing in Athens, and this simple procedure could potentially save your life.
There are several reasons why the STD rates are rising in the city, other than the large number of college students in the area. While this is one of the contributing factors, statistics released by the CDC effectively show this is certainly not the only reason the number of sexually transmitted diseases reported each year is continuing to rise.
One of the main factors in the rising STD rates continues to be the lack of comprehensive sex education classes in the public school system. Studies and the climbing teen pregnancy rate indicate that students are sexually active, and that abstinence based education classes are not always effective. Simply providing teens with the knowledge they need to protect themselves would go a long ways towards lowering teen pregnancy and STD rates.
The city is also recovering from a financial crisis that forced it to cut funding to many of its health care programs. When this is combined with Medicaid no longer covering STD testing many residents simply cannot afford the fees. A lack of community health centers is also adding to the problem. Not only does this make it difficult for some residents to find a nearby STI clinic, the long lines that are common has many deciding to put off this important health procedure.
These are only a few of the factors that are contributing to the area’s high STD rates, and stress the importance of being tested for all sexually transmitted diseases on a regular basis.
Before you head off to spend the day shopping at some of the city’s unique boutiques or pay a visit to the only tree that owns the property it is growing on, it is important to take a few minutes to take care of your sexual health. It is understandable if you don’t want to wait in a long line all day, and now there is a faster and easier way for you to take care of your sexual health. With one simple phone call you can schedule confidential STD testing and only spend a few minutes at a local lab. This way you will still have plenty of time to explore this fascinating city.