Considered a part of the Tulsa metro area it is not surprising to learn that this suburban city has a high STD rate, even with its smaller population. What is unexpected are how high the percentages are, and the fact that STD percentages have been rising for more than twenty years. According to data released by the CDC and state health department the number of residents that test positive for a sexually transmitted infection has been rising since the mid 1980’s.
Sexually transmitted diseases first gained national attention after WWII when soldiers returned home from Europe infected with the Syphilis virus. After several public awareness campaigns health officials thought that they had the disease under control when rates started to rapidly decline. By the 1980’s positive Syphilis tests were rare, but HIV diagnoses were on the rise.
Now according to the Oklahoma Department of Health not only are Syphilis and HIV incidents on the rise, but also Gonorrhea and Chlamydia. For those looking for some good news, the reports do show that reported cases of Hepatitis B and C are decreasing in frequency.
With the number of sexually transmitted diseases climbing each year, it is extremely important for residents to remember to be tested regularly. Some of the statistics that indicate the growing health crisis include,
- In 2014 the suburb and surrounding county ranked 10th in the state for its high Chlamydia rates.
- Caucasians accounted for the majority of Chlamydia cases in 2014, followed closely by African Americans.
- Gonorrhea rates increased by 31.8 percent in 2014, compared to 2013.
Without comprehensive sexual education programs residents do not understand how important it is to be tested for all STDs, and this is also one of the reasons for the area’s high rate of infection. This is starting to change with the public school district now adding comprehensive sex ed. classes to the curriculum.
In general the state does not require its public school districts to teach students about STDs or contraceptives, but it does have abstinence based classes in the junior and senior high schools. These classes do cover the basics concerning how the HIV is spread, but the information literally stops there. This can leave students unprepared for the other STIs that often present a greater risk than HIV/AIDS.
While many know that HIV can be spread through methods other than sex, the same is generally not true for the other common STDs. Herpes can be easily spread without engaging in sexual activity, and the same is also true for Syphilis. While Syphilis is not as common in teens as it is in older adults, the same is not true for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Herpes where those the most at risk are teens and young adults.
Now that the public schools in the area are providing students with the tools they need to protect themselves, more teens are realizing the importance of regular HIV testing in Broken Arrow. They and older residents are also starting to understand that regular HIV testing in Broken Arrow is an important part of taking care of their overall health.
The STD percentages for Broken Arrow are a little different than the majority of other cities. Statistically, African Americans present a higher risk for contracting any of the sexually transmitted diseases, but in this suburban city Caucasians are more likely to test positive.
Part of the reason for these demographics is the simple fact that Old West and cowboys are still going strong in the area, and this does affect the demographical makeup of the area. Even though Caucasians do account for the majority of the STD diagnoses, African Americans are not far behind statistically.
One of the reasons for the high STD rate among African Americans is simply economic. The area in considered middle class, but money is still tight for many families. Along with an inability to pay, many African American men simply do not believe that they could ever contract a sexually transmitted disease. There is also a fear that they could be considered “less manly” by their peers.
Even with the introduction of the new sex ed. classes many residents still do not understand how important it is for their health to get tested at least once a year, though most experts recommend that you visit a clinic every 6 weeks if you are sexually active. Until STD testing really becomes a regular part of everyone’s health care plan the number of infections will continue to rise.
Before touring the old cowboy museums or enjoying a day in the city it is important to think about your sexual health. The number of STDs are rising each year, and this is not likely to change until everyone starts taking care of their health, but this doesn’t mean that you have to spend hours standing in line at a clinic. You can schedule confidential STD testing with one simple phone call and only spend a few minutes at a lab. This way you can take care of your health and still have plenty of time left in your day.