Statistics recently released by the Washington County Health Department and CDC indicate that STD rates are rising in the community, and have been for the past twenty years.
According to the data the number of residents that test positive for a STD is rising across all demographics. It is not just teens and young adults that are at risk, older residents are also finding that their chances of contracting a STD are rising.
As part of the growing Portland metro area local health officials did expect to see high STD rates, but were not prepared for how quickly they had risen. In 2010 there were only 16 cases of Syphilis reported in the county, compared to 70 in 2013. It is not only infectious Syphilis rates that are rising, but also the other commonly transmitted STDs.
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea rates are up in young women and men, and new HIV diagnoses were at some of their highest levels since the mid 1980’s in 2015. With infectious disease rates climbing this rapidly it has never been so important for residents to get tested for all STDs on a regular basis.
It is not just teens and young adults that are at an increased risk, but older residents are also testing positive for a sexually transmitted disease more often. Men over the age of 25 in particular are twice as likely to contract Syphilis or HIV/AIDS than other males.
Some of the other statistics that residents should be aware of include,
- The metro area ranked 5th in the country for its high Syphilis rate in 2015.
- In 2010 African Americans and Hispanics were at the highest risk for contracting HIV/AIDS.
- The Chlamydia rate for the county in 2010 was 181.7, compared to 223.3 reported in 2014.
In response to the rising STD rates the state has made changes to its sex education curriculum, though it should be noted that these classes still promote abstinence. The public school districts must now include information on how all STDs are spread and on the proper use of condoms. The new bill also states that abstinence based curriculum must also be included, even though some of the information might not be accurate.
Even though this is a step in the right direction, most health officials agree that it is not enough. School districts do not have the material they need to implement these changes, and most aren’t in a hurry to do so. When this is combined with the abstinence programs that are already in place students are still not receiving the information they need to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases.
As long as students are taught that abstinence or a monogamous relationship is the best way to prevent the spread of STDs the infection rates will continue to rise. The best way for students and adults to stop the spread of STDs is to be tested on a regular basis. This includes regular HIV testing in Beaverton, regardless of age or sexual inclination. It is currently the only way to detect the disease, and the simple procedure could help save your life.
Regular Herpes testing in Beaverton is also important, especially since the virus is running rampant through area high schools.
The city’s close proximity to Portland is contributing to its high STD rate, but this is not the only demographical factor that is causing it to rise. There are several reasons why the city is dealing with a high number of sexually transmitted infections each year that include economics and a lack of education.
When the housing and stock markets fell in 2008, residents in this bedroom community suffered the same economic hardships. When this is combined with the recent budget cuts to Medicaid and community health centers many residents simply cannot afford to be tested on a regular basis. This is especially true for larger low income families with several members who need to be tested. The budget cuts has also forced many community STI centers to close their doors or have limited hours of operation.
The main contributing factor remains the city’s sex education program. Until all of its public primary and secondary schools have the material they need for these classes, students will remain at risk. Since STDs can be spread without engaging in sexual activity this means that everyone in Beaverton is potentially at risk.
The only way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to visit a nearby STI clinic regularly, and encourage others to do the same.
Taking responsibility for your sexual health is important, even if you don’t believe that you are at risk. The procedure is simple and relatively painless, and it could potentially save your life. Before you head off to tour the area’s wineries or spend the day fishing at Dairy Creek it is important that you take the time to visit a STI clinic. If you don’t want to spend the day waiting in line there is a faster and easier way to take care of your sexual health. You can schedule confidential STD testing with one quick phone call and this way you only need to spend a few minutes at a conveniently located lab.