Located on the Gulf of Mexico many residents find it difficult to accept the fact that their planned community is experiencing a health epidemic.
In the past twenty years reported STDs has continued to climb each year, and health officials are worried that this trend shows no signs of slowing down. Particularly at risk are teens and young adults. Even though some of these numbers were expected to be high, health officials were still surprised that these sexually transmitted diseases were so prevalent in the area’s youth.
While young women presented the high risk of contracting Chlamydia, the recent statistics also show that the number of HIV infections is also on the rise, and in recent years the county has had the dubious distinction of ranking 16th in the state. Syphilis diagnoses are also increasing in frequency, especially among men. As these numbers continue to rise, health officials continue to stress the importance of being checked regularly for all sexually transmitted diseases.
- In 2008 the county ranked 20th in the state for HIV diagnoses and by 2014 it had the 16th highest rate of infections.
- 2011 saw 668 cases of Chlamydia in teens ages 11 to 19.
- There were 6 incidents of primary and secondary Syphilis in teens reported in 2011.
- Gonorrhea incidents rose to a reported 143 cases in 2011.
As the number of sexually transmitted diseases continues to climb, parents and school officials are still continuing to clash over the education programs that are available for students. While students were required to participate in sexual education programs in order to graduate, changes made in recent years has now made these classes an option students can take if they want. During the 2008-2009 school year officials changed the requirements for graduation making it possible for students to replace these important health classes with physical education instead.
While allowing students to substitute sex education classes for gym has helped lower the obesity rate in teens, it is doing very little to protect them from the STDs. The majority of students are not fully aware of how sexually transmitted infections are spread which is putting them and the rest of the community at risk.
One of the reasons this ocean side city is seeing such high numbers of sexually transmitted diseases is due to its diverse population. The city is proud of its diverse demographical makeup, but this is also making it difficult for health officials to stress the importance of regular testing.
Many older residents simply do understand the risk, even though they are staying sexually active later in life. It is also not uncommon for retirees to not be tested simply because many of their care givers also do not understand that they could be at risk.
The conservative attitude toward sex and education classes is also contributing to the problem. Since many teens and their parents do not understand how STDs are spread or that it is possible to contract one without engaging in intercourse, many do not feel that they need to be tested.
Other factors contributing to the high number of STIs reported each year includes the large number of tourists who come for the beautiful beaches and weather. Many of the visitors to the area are already infected with a STD, and end up unknowingly passing it to permanent residents.
Long lines at the few testing centers in the area often makes it inconvenient for residents to get screened regularly, and many of the area’s lower income families find it difficult to pay for this important health test.
Before you decide to spend the day at the beach it is important to stop and think about your sexual health. With the number of reported STDs continuing to rise more residents are finding that they are probably at risk. There are community centers that offer screenings, but the long lines are causing many residents to put off this important test. STI clinics offer fast and private services, and you’ll love getting your results discreetly.