The Auburn/Lee County area ranks 43rd out of the 67 counties in population, but with the median age of residents being 23.7 years, sexual activity is prevalent. Along with being sexually active, young people are involving themselves in risky behaviors regarding STD’s. In a survey conducted in 2013 among sexually active residents the findings included,
- 33% had only one partner during the last year
- 43% had oral sex within the last 30 days (94% of which did not use a condom).
- 43% had vaginal intercourse in the last 30 days (50% mostly or always used a condom).
- 4% had anal sex in the past 30 days (77% of which did not use a condom).
- Of those having had vaginal intercourse, 71% used some method of birth control with 10% being unsure.
The city has been a university town in the most literal of ways. Growth of the city and the university have increased at the same rate. In 1998, it was noted that the AIDS epidemic was continuing to grow. Since then the combined rates of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis have increased from 519 reported cases in 1999 to 1,037 reported cases in 2011.
Some other statistics that have been released recently are noting include,
- 94 percent residents 18 years and old have had vaginal, anal or oral sex.
- 47 percent of males have had anal sex with a woman
- The average person has vaginal or anal sex 73 times a year
- Females 18 years and older have sex with nine men on average, males have sex with 18 women on average.
- Only 14 percent of people in the city use protection, like a condom or dental dam, while performing oral sex.
This information may not be alarming, but it does indicate that the need for residents to get tested regularly for STI’s is needed.
City schools currently follow the state’s code guidelines to teach abstinence-only as the expected behavior. In 1987, AIDS education was added for students in grades five through twelve as a part of the health education program.
In a report prepared by the city it was noted that in light of the rising numbers of sexually transmitted infections, the schools lacked a comprehensive and preventive curriculum that would address issues concerning early sexual activity and diseases associated with this activity. Although the addition of such a program is in the long-range planning for the city to 2020, it has yet to be developed or implemented.
Currently, the responsibility of educating young people of the types of STD’s there are and how they can be contracted is left to the family. While some parents may discuss this with their child, it is uncertain if the information is accurate. Although most young people surveyed in the city understood that they needed protection during vaginal intercourse, many were unaware of the need for protection during oral sex or other personal contact.
The city is deeply rooted in what is commonly known as the Bible Belt. Although family values are stressed in the home, many of the city’s residents are away from home, possibly for the first time. This new-found freedom, peer pressure, parties on and off campus, and lack of parental supervision can encourage risky behaviors which may lead to sexual activity.
Along with the many young residents, the city Auburn University attract many tourists each year. But, participation in sexual activities does not equal admission, so therefore may not lead to admitting the need to be STD tested. And although the university provides free condoms, students may be reluctant to sit among fellow students at the on-campus health clinic to be tested.
Race and gender also display variances by disease. The incidence of reported Syphilis cases is much higher for males than females, and higher for black males overall. Cases of Chlamydia were primarily reported for black females. Gonorrhea was slightly higher for females, but by race was much higher for blacks.
With a median age of 23.7 years and the bulk of sexually transmitted infections developed prior to age 25, the city is likely to have many cases of STD’s that are not ever reported. Since STD’s do not always have symptoms, many students may leave school and eventually get tested elsewhere. This makes the numbers reported statistically in the area possibly much lower than the actual reporting. Combined with southern cultural influences, basic human denial, the inability to accept alternative lifestyles and abstinence-only education programs, there is a need for a sense of urgency for STD including HIV/AIDS testing.
This is a place that provides education, activities and homes to many people each year. It also includes a rising rate of STD’s. Now is the time to educate yourself and make the important decision to get tested regularly. Just one call and a visit lasting 15 to 20 minutes can provide you with the information to remain healthy, leaving you with plenty of time to enjoy all that the city has to offer.