The CDC and Whatcom County Health Department released statistics that show the number of STDs reported annually in the area is rising, and has been for the past two decades. This includes HIV, Herpes, HPV, Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, along with all types of Syphilis.
These same statistics also show some good news for the area, Hepatitis B and C incidents have dramatically decreased in recent years.
Rates for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are highest in teens and young adults ages 15 to 24, accounting for two thirds of the cases reported each year. Herpes and HPV diagnoses are also more common in this demographic, especially among young men. Guys are also testing positive more often for Gonorrhea, while Chlamydia incidents are highest in women.
When it comes to Syphilis and HIV rates, residents over the age of 25 are finding themselves with the greatest risk. This is particularly true for African American and Caucasian men. As a whole African American teens and adults are twice as likely to contract a STD as other ethnicities.
The statistics also show that sexually transmitted diseases can affect anyone, regardless of age or ethnicity.
Some of the other statistics that highlight the importance of regular STD testing include,
- From 1994 to 2013 the Chlamydia rate for the county almost doubled in females ages 15 to 24.
- The county reported an infection rate of 34.5 for Genital Herpes in 2013, compared to the state average of 32.1.
- In 2013 there were 60 cases of Gonorrhea reported, compared to less than 40 in 2012.
State lawmakers recently passed a bill that revamps the current sex education policy. While rumors and misprints have led to some outrage by parents and school administrators, overall the new guidelines are designed to ensure students receive information that is relevant and medically accurate.
The main changes deal with gender identity, and the new curriculum does not promote sexually activity. Abstinence is still encouraged, only now students will have access to some of the information they need to understand the changes taking place in their bodies as they go through puberty. Law makers are hopeful that not only will this help prevent “bullying” simply because a student is different, but that it will also enable them to make smart decisions when it comes to being sexually active.
Since the new curriculum won’t be implemented until the start of the 2017 school year, it is too soon to tell if these changes are having a positive effect on the area’s high STD and teen pregnancy rates.
Even with these changes the state’s sex education policy is still lacking in some areas. The importance of always using condoms during intercourse is only discussed if a student has the courage to ask, and unfortunately most don’t. This means that even though the majority of high school students are sexually active, according to recent surveys, most are not using protection.
Regular Herpes testing in Bellingham is the best way to prevent the spread of the contagious virus. Regular HIV testing in Bellingham is critical for everyone’s continued good health, and the simple procedure could potentially save your life. It is also the only way to positively detect this disease.
There are several reasons for the city’s rising STD rates, though hopefully in the coming years a lack of sex education won’t be one of them. Thanks to recent changes in the required material, it will be a little easier for teens to have access to the information they need to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases.
Budget cuts to health care in recent years are being blamed for the rise in the city’s STD rates. The small city only had a few community health centers, and the loss of funding has caused some of them to close their doors. Without a convenient place to get tested, many residents are simply ignoring this important part of their health care routine.
Adding to residents’ difficulties in getting tested is the fact that it is no longer covered under Medicaid. This means that many residents on fixed incomes simply cannot afford to take care of their sexual health. As long as everyone doesn’t have easy access to the health care they need, the number of STDs reported each year will continue to rise.
These are only a few of the factors affecting the STD rates, and until they are all resolved everyone’s sexual health will be at risk.
Before you make plans to go camping on Lummi Island or enjoy one of the area’s scenic parks, it is important to take a few minutes to think about your sexual health. The number of STDs reported each year is rising, and this means that regular testing is important. It is understandable if you don’t want to spend the day waiting at the local STI clinic, and now there is a faster and easier way 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 conveniently located lab. This way you still have plenty of time to enjoy your day.