Birmingham and surrounding Jefferson County are experiencing a steady increase in its STD rates, and without regular testing these numbers will continue to rise.
Statistics show that reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases has continued to rise. While some city leaders point out that some STDs that include Hepatitis B and C are on the decline in recent years, health officials are quick to point out that others are still on the rise.
In 2014 the STD rate for Jefferson County and Birmingham were an estimated 2.7 percent higher than the national average. Other statistics that seem to indicate the growing problem with sexually transmitted diseases include,
- In the first four months of 2013 there were over 1,000 new diagnoses of Chlamydia in women ages 20 to 24.
- 2013 also saw a rise in the number of men ages 15 to 19 who tested positive for Chlamydia for an estimated total of 2407, in the first four months.
- In 1999 there were an estimated 5041 cases of Gonorrhea, Chlamydia and Syphilis reported in Jefferson County and Birmingham, compared to 2068 diagnoses in the first four months of 2013.
Like many southern states Alabama and the city of Birmingham rely heavily on the federally supported abstinence only program in its public schools, though education officials are quick to point out that this does begin in the 5th grade.
While promoting abstinence only works well for middle school age children, teens are finding it harder to “just say no” with the amount of peer pressure they get regularly from friends and from simply watching social media sites. It getting more difficult for students to refrain from engaging in premarital sex, and abstinence only contracts are not the answer to preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
Birmingham’s public school officials insist that the state’s guidelines concerning sexual education are being strictly followed, but this unfortunately does not include discussing the importance of using protection during sexual activity. Not only is this not discussed during the sex education classes, most schools do not offer condoms to students who admit that they are sexually active.
The lack of information is also increasing students and residents chances of contracting a STD. Not all STDs are transmitted only through sexual contact, and without proper education many people do not know that they are already at risk.
Regular Herpes testing in Birmingham can prevent the spread of this common STD, and even stop embarrassing flare ups before they appear. HIV testing in Birmingham is also important, especially since it is not uncommon for someone infected to not display any signs or symptoms. Regular health screenings can not only save your life, but it can also help protect someone you love.
Demographics plays an important role in the STD rate for a particular area, and this is true in Birmingham. The city’s diverse population is contributing to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, along with disparities in income, education and even religious and cultural beliefs can cause a rise in STD rates.
Birmingham does have a large African American population which helps to explain the high percentage of men and women affected with STDs in this ethnic group, but this can be changed with adequate education and regular testing.
Lower income families often do not have access to affordable health care, and the shortage of clinics in these neighborhoods can make it difficult to get tested regularly. Many of these families also can’t afford to pay for regular screenings, and some of these residents have simply reached a point where they do not care.
Before visiting the Civil Rights Museum it is important for Birmingham residents to get tested regular for STDs. There are HIV clinics in the city for residents, but this isn’t the best choice for everyone. If privacy is important, an affordable STI clinic might be the right option for you. Nobody needs to know why your there, and you can get your test results often on the same day.