According to the most recent county health profile Gonorrhea rates in the city are much higher than the national average with 167 infected per 100,000. This is one of the higher rates of infection seen in the US. This trend has been consistent over the last 20 years of data collection according to the State Health data book
Syphilis is still the most prevalent STD in the area with primary and secondary syphilis both remaining a health problem.
Hepatitis has been on the decrease (especially Hep A which decreased by 50% between 2009 and 2015).
CDC supports an adult hepatitis prevention coordinator to integrate viral hepatitis prevention activities into existing public health programs. This includes two projects designed to increase viral hepatitis screening and linkage to care.
Other tests available are HIV testing which has consistently decreased over the past 20 years. The city’s statistics reflect a much lower than average rate of infection.
There are funds in place to support the identification and evaluation of persons exposed to TB, as well as laboratory services for the at-risk population. This has led to a low rate of infection.
The city’s population is currently just over 75,000 (although if you include nearby Normal, which many stats do, it is closer to 128,000) with a fairly equal male to female ratio. The city has had consistent growth in the past 10 years and unlike many similar sized cities the median age is just above 30.
The population is largely Caucasian and despite the recent economic downturn the area is still thriving financially with unemployment rate of only 5.7% and an average household income of $60,000. More than half of the adults in the region have attained a college degree and the recent influx of students and younger job seekers contributes to the youthful demographic.
This educated population understands the risks associated with untreated STDs yet the youthful belief that regular testing is only for drug users and people who engage in risky sexual behavior can lead to the rapid spread of these easily transmittable diseases.
The highly religious community can still see a stigma around pre-marital sex which also leads to delayed or infrequent testing.
STD testing is used to diagnose sexually transmitted diseases. Diagnosis leads to treatment options that safeguard against further transmission of the disease and reduction of long-term health effects. Common tests offered by city clinics include,
- bacterial vaginosis (BV)
- genital warts
STD prevention services are also offered area health clinics and include:
- HPV vaccine (Gardasil)
- hepatitis B vaccine
A PCR blood test can tell if you have genital herpes even if you don’t have symptoms. This is the most common method used to diagnose herpes and is very accurate. The test results are available quickly (sometimes same day).
Most HIV tests are antibody tests. Antibodies are produced by your immune system when you’re exposed to viruses like HIV. The test looks for these antibodies (immune response) to HIV in your blood or sometimes in your saliva. The antibodies can take as long as three weeks to grow so results usually take a minimum of 21 days.
Illinois has a grant supported state CDC fund that addresses STDs including prevention, education, assessment, surveillance, and safe policy development. What this means for city residents and visitors is easy access to testing and treatment conveniently and privately.
Local schools include sexual health safety in their curriculum. The Illinois School Code states that course instruction in grades six through 12 must include instruction on the prevention, transmission, and spread of AIDS. This includes the public schools as well as the many Catholic schools that are found in the area.
Any school that teaches sexuality education must also emphasize that, “abstinence is the expected norm in that abstinence from sexual intercourse is the only protection that is 100% effective against unwanted teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome when transmitted sexually.”
Unfortunately, this somewhat naive way to educate doesn’t help the 30% of area high school students who admit to being sexually active. This lack of informed curriculum could contribute to this educated demographic still having some of the higher STD rates in the country.
Macon County has a unique demographic that is close to 80% Caucasian with the balance being almost entirely black. The county also has exceedingly high rates of drinking and driving as well as underage drinking. Perhaps the lack of judgment while under the influence is leaking over into sexual behaviors.
The average age is 9% lower than the rest of the state. These millennials probably don’t remember the HIV scare of the late 80s.
This is a family friendly and growing community. This pocket of STD infections risks continued growth if regular testing doesn’t happen. Fortunately there are better ways to take care of sexual health in the area.
Now you can make a simple phone call or schedule confidential STD testing on-line avoiding both the chance of running into someone you know as well as potentially long wait times. You may spend as little as 15 to 20 minutes at the local lab allowing you peace of mind and ensured safety.
There are also free STD Testing Centers in Bloomington, IL and these STD clinics offer cost effective solutions to keep you healthy. Removing the stress of not knowing is well worth a visit to a local testing facility.