The rate of STD’s in the Barren River District of Kentucky varies by disease. Overall, this area rates high in instances of HIV, but low instances of every other type of STD. As most STD’s are treatable, but HIV still has no cure, it becomes more important than ever to get tested on a regular basis, typically every three to six months.
Twenty years ago, it was chlamydia that was on the rise in the area, a treatable, yet annoying, disease that’s undetectable without testing. This pesky disease could sneak back into the higher numbers, as it is nearly symptomless, creating the need for testing as a regular part of a health routine. The following are instances of STD’s in the Barren River district in 2008, the last year that the Kentucky government published a researchable report:
*All numbers per 100,000 residents
- Chlamydia: 7.05-37.68
- Gonorrhea: 0.00-4.37
- Hepatitis A: Zero instances
- Hepatitis B: 1.73-3.10
- Hepatitis C: 0.67-1.80
- HIV/AIDS: 8.50-16.58 (highest in the state)
- Syphilis: Zero instances
As HIV is the most prevalent issue in the Barren River District, it is the most discussed topic of STD education. Western Kentucky University offers a full page on their website devoted to sexual education, including topics such as:
- Condom use
- Do’s and Dont’s
- Safer Sex Practices
- Seeking Free HIV Testing On and Off Campus
- Fact Sheet on STD’s from WHO
Local school disctricts within the city follow the basic statewide and national guidelines for STD education, offering middle school and high school students information on the basics of STD’s, and offering counseling to students who feel they might have an STD.
The Barren River District Health Department of Warren County offers information on testing facilities and general population education on all STD’s, including HIV, which is the area’s biggest current health issue. The health department, mandated by the government, also offers free HIV and herpes testing, as well as free tests for all other STD’s. However, time slots are limited, and lines are often long.
If an STD is discovered, the facility that tested the patient will offer a counseling session. The points in the session are:
- Take medication properly
- Abstain from sex during treatment
- Return to the follow-up appointments
- Learn how to read test results
- Information on practicing safer sex
- Preventing pregnancy
- Partner services (such as state-supported anonymous phone calls) to those with Chlamydia, gonorrhea, NGU or MPC
As of July 2015 the city was home to just over 63,000 people. Of those residents, 75% were white, with 28% of the total population living below the poverty level. 15% of these residents lived without health insurance, and only 27% possessed a Bachelor’s degree or higher, despite the fact that Western Kentucky University is within the city limits.
The poverty level, combined with the flux of college students at the university, push the STD rates higher. Those who are not educated, or do not know how to get educated, live with STD’s such as HIV or chlamydia, for a long period of time without getting tested. Poverty is associated with an inability or unwillingness toward education; many in poverty never finish high school.
What’s more, the college students who live in the city part-time are not counted in the census, but still interact with the community. These students are often too embarrassed to be seen getting regular STD tests, or are on their parents’ health insurance, and do not want their parents getting a bill for STD treatments. Their silence, and interactions with the community, push the STD statistics higher.
The quality of health care in the city is superb, mainly due to the university. There are a number of options for the impoverished and students alike to get free, private care for STD’s, including tests and treatment. The Health Department offers these services, as well as the Health Services for Students on campus.
The city offers a number of options to get tested for STD’s on a regular basis. Whether testing is done through a primary care physician, a free clinic, or the Health Department, it’s important to get checked, especially as the top two STD’s in Bowling Green, HIV and chlamydia, are nearly undetectable in their early stages.
With testing facilities that make it easy to get in and out quickly, there seems to be no reason to skip a scheduled test. Whether you’re testing once a year as a regular routine, or are more sexually active and testing once every six months, you’ll be able to keep going to class, keep exploring the serenity of the area, and keep enjoying downtown’s active pulse of life, knowing you’re covered, and you’re healthy.