Additional STD Test Statistics in Blue Springs, MO
Despite attempts by the state of Missouri to proactively address its growing STD challenge, particularly among its youngest and most vulnerable residents, the State still has higher than average chlamydia and gonorrhea incidence rates. And these rates are particularly high in Jackson County, the county that is home to Blue Springs, Missouri. Many public health advocates argue that Missouri’s relatively high rates of new STD infections can be attributed to failed sexual health education policies. Rather than focusing on promoting and encouraging safe sexual health practices, the State has pushed abstinence-only programs. This is also true in Blue Springs’ schools.
According to the most recent statistics reported for the State of Missouri, roughly 20 percent of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis cases have been reported in Jackson County. And, given the fact that Blue Springs is one of the larger population centers in the county, it is not a stretch to conclude that many of these STD infections are coming directly from the Blue Springs community. Perhaps even more alarming than these high rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia are the large number of syphilis cases that have been reported in Blue Springs and surrounding communities. In the first five months of 2017, Jackson County has had 109 recorded syphilis cases. This is far more than the number reported even in St Louis.
For a variety of reasons, over the last two decades, syphilis rates have surged across the country, causing sexual health educators to become increasingly concerned about this new public health challenge. Doctors and other medical professionals, however, have been slower to respond to this growing epidemic. And, thus, not all medical professionals are adequately testing patients for potential syphilis infections. This means that the actual infection rates may be even higher than the troubling figures seen in Blue Springs, MO, and other areas across the Midwest.
HIV/AIDS rates are relatively low in Missouri, including in the Blue Springs and Jackson County communities. The majority of individuals who are impacted by the disease are over 45 and contracted the disease via homosexual intercourse. However, given the recent uptick in drug use around the country, it should not be surprising that 190 individuals in the Jackson County area contracted the disease via sharing contaminated needles.
Perhaps the most disturbing HIV/AIDS statistic for the area is the fact that there are 129 youths under the age of 24 who are HIV-positive in the community. This again underscores the importance of implementing more effective sexual health education programs in schools, as well as encouraging parents to actively discuss these issues with their children.
STD Testing and Sexual Health Education in Blue Springs, MO
As noted above, the State of Missouri, for a wide variety of reasons, has chosen to adopt abstinence-only sexual health education programs in its public schools. This is despite the fact that most research indicates abstinence-based programs are significantly less effective at preventing teenage pregnancy and limiting STD infection rates than more comprehensive outreach efforts.
The lack of comprehensive education may help explain the disturbingly high number of young individuals in the Jackson County area who have tested positive for HIV/AIDS. Statistics also indicate that a large number of chlamydia and gonorrhea cases are occurring amongst high school and college-aged students who may be more likely to have multiple partners and engage in sexual activity when under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.
Although sexual health education in public schools may lag behind best practice standards, at least within the K-12 age, most Missouri colleges and universities do a proactive job educating college students about how to make safe and responsible sexual health choices. This education happens through college health centers, as well as via peers who are trained in sexual education.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Demographics in Blue Springs, MO
According to the most recent census, Blue Springs, Missouri has a population of just over 50,000 residents. The population has remained relatively consistent in recent years, although there has been an increase in the number of young families living in the community. These young families are drawn to the community by its strong schools, its reputation of being a safe place to live, and a relatively robust economy. There are numerous well-paying jobs in the community (with the City and the school district being major employers), and other residents commute to Kansas City for jobs. Although traffic has gotten more tangled in recent years, the commute is still doable, and most people have to travel less than 30 minutes from their door to their job.
Only a very tiny fraction of the predominantly white community are below Missouri’s poverty line; the vast majority of residents earn comfortable middle class salaries. In general, economic prosperity tends to be negatively correlated with high rates of STD infections. Individuals who are well-educated and who earn good incomes are more likely to engage in safe sexual health practices.
This stagnation may help explain the high rates of STD infection seen in the community. Frequently, STD infection rates and economic vitality are inversely correlated. Higher income and greater levels of education generally result in safer sexual practices (even though this is not always true).
STI Testing Resources in Blue Springs, MO
Given that Blue Springs, Missouri is only a short car trip from Kansas City, residents have numerous choices for STD testing, based on personal preferences and budget considerations. In addition to going to one’s own doctor’s office or the nearest urgent care center or hospital, Blue Springs residents can choose to have STD testing at the ARCpoints Lab of Lee’s Summit. There is also a Minute Clinic and Quest Diagnostics that can provide comprehensive testing for pay.
Many people, especially younger female residents of the community, choose to have their STD testing performed at the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Independence, Missouri. Another upside of this choice is that the commute is easy; Independence is less than 20 minutes from Blue Springs. Although the majority of patients at the Planned Parenthood Clinic are women, this clinic does offer specialty services that are geared towards men’s unique needs. Although this Planned Parenthood Clinic does offer a full range of pregnancy and STD testing, it does not provide abortion services on site. There is also a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Kansas City, although the commute to this location can be longer, particularly during peak travel times.
In addition to testing via for-profit clinics, Planned Parenthood, and private doctors’ offices, there are other options available for patients, particularly those who may be encountering financial concerns or young adults who are concerned about privacy issues. These residents of Blue Springs can visit the Jackson County Department of Public Health. Comprehensive testing, as well as an appointment with a well-trained nurse practitioner, costs only $15, no matter how many tests are performed at a visit. This low cost is an appealing feature for many patients. Also, the ability to ask questions of the nurse practitioner and receive public health education is another added bonus.
Better Sexual Health in Blue Springs, MO
Blue Springs, Missouri is a vibrant and appealing community located just a stone’s throw from Kansas City. This location means that residents can have the best of both worlds; they can enjoy the urban flavor of Kansas City and still raise their children in a safe community that has been named one of America’s top 100 places to live. However, there is a downside to even the nicest communities. And, every community has certain public health challenges that it must face.
One of these public health challenges in Blue Springs, Missouri is its high rate of STDs, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and HIV/AIDS. To address these high rates, the community must be more proactive about naming this challenge and then putting in place various steps. Some of these important steps are launching more effective sexual health education programs in public schools. Abstinence-only programs are unfortunately not working, and young people are suffering because of them. And, for young and old residents alike, it is important to encourage them to be regularly tested for STDs at one of the many testing sites that are located in and around Blue Springs.
Here are some of the links to the resources mentioned above: