The CDC and Champaign County Health Department recently released statistics highlighting the rising STD rates in the area. Over the last twenty years the number of sexually transmitted diseases reported annually has been rising, and the latest statistics indicate that this trend is not expected to change anytime soon.
In 2012 the state health department also released statistics that shows the county ranks in the top ten for its high Chlamydia and Gonorrhea rates. Compared to state averages the area also ranks in the top twenty for the number of early Syphilis incidents reported annually.
Teens and young adults are testing positive for STDs with alarming frequency, especially Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. Women under the age of 25 are among those with the highest risk for contracting Chlamydia, while younger men are twice as likely to test positive for Gonorrhea, compared to females.
The number of Syphilis and HIV incidents reported each year is also rising, especially among older men. The county is currently ranked among the top 5 for its high STD rates, and unfortunately health officials don’t expect it to change anytime soon. Some of the other statistics that highlight the growing STD problem and the need for regular testing include,
- In 2015 the county reported a Chlamydia rate of 738.8 compared to the state’s average of 526.1.
- The Gonorrhea rate for the county in 2015 was 203.8 with the majority of incidents occurring in adults under the age of 25.
- The county was ranked in the top 5 for its high STD rates in 2015.
In 2013 state lawmakers passed a bill that seemed to call for changes in sex education. Public schools must now include medically accurate and comprehensive information on STDs and contraceptives, if they currently have or decide to offer sex education classes. Abstinence will still be encouraged, but students will also learn how to protect themselves if they are sexually active.
The new law does not require school districts to provide students with sex education, though all must include medically accurate information on HIV/AIDS.
While “abstinence only” material is no longer an approved part of the curriculum, conservative groups aren’t that worried. Most state that since their material also covers the use of contraceptives their abstinence based classes fall well within the new guidelines. Even though this may be true, it is leaving a large percentage of students ill-equipped to protect themselves from STDs.
Students are often taught that condoms and other types of contraceptives are ineffective at preventing pregnancies and STDs. This has led to an estimated 60 percent of graduating high school seniors to believe that there isn’t a reason to use protect during intercourse. This misconception is being blamed for the city’s high teen pregnancy and STD rates.
Unfortunately the majority of teens are also not learning about the importance of regular STD testing. Regular Herpes testing in Champaign could prevent the spread of the contagious virus, especially among teens. Thanks to federal law the importance of regular HIV testing in Champaign is briefly discussed, and is being credited with the county’s lower infection rates.
The city’s high STD rates are caused by several demographic factors. It is home to the University of Illinois, and this means that a large percentage of the population is 22 years of age or younger. Statistically adults under the age of 25 have a greater risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease.
This is due to several reasons. A lack of comprehensive sex education in the city, and across the nation is leaving incoming college students ill-equipped to protect themselves from STDs. Some are not aware of how important condoms are, while others mistakenly believe that prophylactics do not offer adequate protection. Not only is this putting them at risk, but everyone they come in contact with.
The lack of STI clinics is also being cited as a reason for the steady increase in the number of sexually transmitted infections reported each year. The strong conservative beliefs that are prevalent in the area has been successful at limiting the number of STD testing facilities in the city, and recent budget cuts has reduced it even further. With many community health centers being forced to close due to lack of funding, residents are finding it even harder to get tested for STDs on a regular basis.
Until these and other issues are resolved this college town will continue to see rising STD rates.
Before heading over to one of the hip downtown bars to celebrate a Fighting Illini win it is important to take a few minutes to think about your sexual health. The number of STDs reported each year is rising, and this means that it is important to get tested every 6 months. It is understandable if you don’t want to wait in the long lines that are common at the community testing centers, and now you don’t have to. With one simple phone call you can easily schedule confidential STD testing and only spend a few minutes at a local lab. This way you can take care of your sexual health and still catch the game.