According to the CDC and Cook County Health Department, this small suburb of Chicago is seeing the same increase in its STD rates as those found in the big city, and the statistics recently released by these agencies show that this trend has been occurring over the last twenty years. The Chicago Department of Health also supports the recent statistics, and warns that the number of infections will continue to increase unless residents start taking responsibility for their sexual health.
Teens and young adults are among those with the highest risk for infection, according to the recently released data. In 2014 it was estimated that men and women ages 13 to 24 accounted for 60 percent of the Chlamydia and Gonorrhea infections in the area. This does not mean that older adults are also not at risk, especially since the area has a Chlamydia rate that is twice that as the national average. It is even higher when it comes to Gonorrhea, and unfortunately the rates for the other commonly transmitted sexual diseases are also increasing. With STD rates rising, it is important that everyone start getting tested on a regular basis regardless of sexual activity.
Some of the statistics that highlight the growing importance of regular STD testing include,
- In 2014 it was estimated that 1 in 4 adults ages 18 to 22 had been diagnosed with at least one STD.
- 44 percent of the primary and secondary Syphilis diagnoses occurred in adults under the age of 30.
- The Chlamydia rate in the area is twice that of the national average in 2014, and three times as high for Gonorrhea.
In 2013 state law makers passed a bill that requires all public school districts to include comprehensive information about sexually transmitted diseases and birth control in their sex education classes. While this is being seen as a positive step towards starting to lower the STD rates, the new law stops short of actually requiring public school systems to provide students with sex education.
Since the law only applies to public schools that teach sex education a large number of students are still graduating without the information they need to protect themselves from the STDs. The other issue many health officials have with the new law is that currently there are not any guidelines in place to ensure that the public schools that do teach sex education are actually using material that provides students with the information they need. Abstinence based material is still commonly used, and this is not expected to change anytime soon.
This means that teens will continue to be ill-equipped to deal with the risks and responsibilities that come with being sexually active. When it comes to discussions regarding regular HIV testing in Cicero most public school systems do include this in the curriculum. Unfortunately the same is not true regarding regular Herpes testing in Cicero, even though the simple procedure is the most effective way to prevent the spread of the virus in area high schools.
There are several reasons why this small municipality is dealing with high STD rates. It is a suburb of Chicago and this does mean that the statistics do cover an area larger than the tiny city, but this still doesn’t explain why residents are testing positive for STDs more frequently.
One of the main contributing factors is the lack of comprehensive sex education programs in the public schools. Even though changes have been made in recent years to the law students still aren’t receiving the information they need to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases. It is not uncommon for teens to graduate not understanding all of the various ways sexually transmitted infections can be spread or how important it is to always use protection during intercourse.
Abstinence based information is still being taught, in spite of the new law requiring public schools to use accurate and comprehensive material. Since the number of teen pregnancies and STD cases continues to rise, it is becoming more apparent that students are not refraining from sexual activity.
The city and county have recently suffered financial setbacks and this has forced the government to drastically cut funding to many community health care centers. With many STI clinics being forced to close their doors residents are finding it hard to located a testing facility close to them. When they do find one the long lines make many residents decide to put off this important health screening.
Until these and other contributing factors are resolved the number of reported STDs is expected to continue to rise.
Before you decide to spend the day strolling down Michigan Avenue or at one of the suburbs picturesque parks, 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 for everyone to get tested. It is understandable if you don’t want to spend the day waiting in a long line, and now you don’t have to. With one simple phone call you can schedule confidential STD testing and only spend a few minutes at a nearby lab.