According to statistics recently released by the CDC and Palm Beach County Health department, this sunny resort city is seeing a surge in its STD rates. The statistics also show that for some sexually transmitted diseases, the percentage of residents that test positive in the county are above state averages. In particular HIV and Gonorrhea rates are significantly higher in Palm Beach County than those reported in the rest of the state.
Chlamydia incidents are also increasing, along with those for genital Herpes and even Syphilis. While these rates are still above state averages, the statistics indicate that this will soon change unless residents start taking care of their sexual health.
What many local health officials find the most alarming about the recent statistics is the fact that the STD rates for the county have been rising for the past twenty years. From 1994 to 2015 the STD rate for the county went from 235.2 to 449.1, and this includes Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and infectious Syphilis.
Teens and young adults continue to be among those with the greatest risk for contracting a sexually transmitted infection, especially those in the 18 to 22 year old age bracket. The recent statistics also show a new trend, and that is that older residents are testing positive for one or more STD with alarming frequency. Hispanics and African American men and women are at a higher risk for contracting any of the STDs, but Caucasian men are also at an increased risk for Syphilis and HIV according to the latest statistics.
Some of the recent statistics that highlight the growing STD problem in the community include,
- In 2014 there were 5,864 HIV incidents in the county, compared to 3,166 in 2005.
- STD rates in the county nearly double from 2005 to 2014.
- The county saw a 30 percent increase in STDs from 2009 to 2014.
For several years the Sunshine State has debated about changing the curriculum used in its sex education classes, but so far nothing has been done. The state and county still rely on emphasizing the importance of abstinence, and stress that it is the best and only way to prevent unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
Not only is the method ineffective judging by the state’s teen pregnancy rate, which is the second highest in the nation, but STDs are also on the rise. These rising rates are what has prompted some lawmakers to suggest making changes, but so far the curriculum remains abstinence based.
This means that teens and young adults are not learning about the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases, and most students do not realize all of the ways that these infectious viruses can be spread. STDs can be spread through a variety of methods, not only sexual activity. The current sex education programs also does not discuss the importance of regular STD testing, regardless of sexual activity.
Regular HIV testing in Boca Raton is the only way to stop the rates for this potentially deadly disease from climbing higher. It is also the only way to positively check for the virus. The same is also true regarding regular Herpes testing in Boca Raton, and the simple procedure could help prevent the virus from spreading through area high schools.
In response to the rising STD rates the county has lowered the cost of testing making it more affordable for lower income residents to afford this potentially lifesaving procedure. While this is a positive first step towards lowering the area’s STD rates, there are still several other factors that are causing it to rise.
One of the main contributing factors is the lack of a comprehensive and medically accurate sex education program. It is not uncommon for students to graduate from high school not understanding the risks and responsibilities that come with being sexually active. This lack of information is also affecting older residents that are staying active sexually longer thanks to advances in health care and medications.
Another reason that STD rates are rising, especially among Hispanics is the large number of migrant workers that come to the area. Many of these temporary residents have never been tested for a sexually transmitted disease, and this increases the risk for everyone that lives in the city. A language barrier is also making it difficult for health officials to inform some residents of the importance of regular STI testing.
Until these and the other contributing factors are resolved, residents in this oceanfront community can expect to see the number of STDs reported each year continue to rise.
Before you head to the beach or tour one of the city’s museums it is important to take a few minutes to take care of your sexual health. There are community testing centers that residents can take advantage of, but most do not want to spend the day waiting in a long line. Now you can avoid the crowded clinics and still get tested simply by making one quick and easy phone call. This way you can schedule confidential STD testing and only spend a few minutes in a nearby lab.