Surrounded by scenic mountains it is an outdoor lover’s paradise, and this doesn’t seem to fit with the area’s rising STD rate. Over the last twenty years statistics released by the Colorado Department of Health show that the number of sexually transmitted diseases has been climbing at a steady rate, and very little is being done to stop it.
Gonorrhea and Chlamydia rates have skyrocketed in the last few years, and the number of Syphilis cases is also starting to rise. The area is seeing a decrease in the number of reported cases of HIV/AIDS, and in 2014 there were only 5 new diagnoses. This is an all-time low for the city since the AIDS epidemic first began in the 1980’s.
While falling HIV rates are a good sign, it is quickly cancelled out by the growing number of reported cases of infectious Syphilis. Unlike Chlamydia and Gonorrhea that typically affects teens and young adults, Syphilis is turning up more often in older residents. Statistics also show that Hepatitis incidents are on the rise, especially in African American males.
African Americans and Hispanics make up the largest percentage of positive STD diagnoses, even though both ethnic groups are in the minority. This is true for all of the STDs, except HIV where the largest percent of new cases occurred in Caucasian males.
In 2012 there were a couple of complaints by local mothers about the sexual education programs in the local schools and the invited presenters. Since the state only requires public schools to teach medically accurate information about HIV, the rest of the curriculum is left up to the individual districts. Not only has this left large gaps in the amount and quality of information that students get, it has also resulted in some confusion on who is teaching the classes.
The concerns over the presenters are becoming more common, especially since the STD rates in the area are now some of the highest in the state. Many of the presenters for the sex ed. classes have strong religious affiliations that are causing the information to be biased. Not only are parents concerned that this is violating federal mandates that state “religion and education in public schools must be separate”, but also that the information being taught is incorrect according to medical standards. This is leaving students ill-equipped to deal with the dangers and responsibilities that come with being sexually active.
Not only do teens not know how to protect themselves from the various STDs, it is also putting other residents at risk. Regular HIV testing in Boulder is one of the most important things anyone can do to protect their health, and it is also one of the easiest. With regular Herpes testing in Boulder students could finally see their risk for contracting the virus start to decrease. It only takes a few minutes of your time to get tested, and it could be the most important thing you do today.
When a quick glance is taken at the demographical makeup of Boulder, it’s hard to see at first why the city has such a high STD rate. The majority of the population is Caucasian, and a large percentage of residents spend most of their time outdoors. Most are educated and considered middle class, which doesn’t fit in with the general stereotype of a community at risk.
As you start to look a little closer it is easier to understand how the STD rates got so high in the city. Even though Boulder has a large population it is still in a remote area and this can make it difficult for health officials. Reaching all of the residents can take time, and many simply don’t want to be bothered. This also means that the chances of them getting tested for any STD is slim.
The largest contributing factor to the high rate of sexually transmitted diseases is the lack of education. Research has shown that the most effective way to slow and eventually stop the spread of all sexually transmitted diseases is simply by teaching residents the importance of regular testing, even if you do practice safe sex.
Education does not encourage teens to have sex, it simply gives them a way to protect themselves from STDs and unplanned pregnancies. Having comprehensive information easily available is the best and most affordable way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases from spreading.
Mountain climbing, hiking, skiing and rafting are only some of the outdoor activities you can enjoy in Boulder, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to still make time to take care of your health. Part of staying healthy includes regular STI testing, and this doesn’t have to mean that you are stuck at a clinic all day. Now you can easily schedule confidential STD testing with one quick phone call and only spend a few minutes in the privacy of a local lab. This way you can stay healthy and still have plenty of time to enjoy this great city.