Additional STD Test Statistics in Collierville, TN
Collierville, Tennessee is a part of Shelby County. Shelby County also encompasses the large urban center of Memphis with a population of more than 650,000 individuals. Because Memphis accounts for such a large percentage of Shelby County’s total population, health trends in Memphis tend to skew the results for the entire county. And no health trend is more marked in Memphis than the astronomical gonorrhea and chlamydia infection rates in the city, especially among younger adults. In fact, in recent years, Memphis, Tennessee has had the dubious honor of leading all of the United States in gonorrhea and chlamydia infection rates. And this trend shows little evidence of reversing itself.
On the positive side, the number of newly reported chlamydia cases in Shelby County in 2013 and 2014 were lower than the figures seen in previous years. In 2013, there were roughly 8,500 diagnosed cases of chlamydia, and the following year, the number dropped to just over 8,000. As recently as 2009, there were almost 11,000 cases of chlamydia each year in the county. And medical professionals suggested that young black women represented a disproportionate share of those diagnosed with chlamydia, raising long-term concerns about reproductive health and potential infertility. Even considering this improvement, Collierville and Shelby County still account for more than 1 out of every 4 chlamydia cases in Tennessee.
Shelby County also accounts for a large percentage of Tennessee’s total gonorrhea cases. Again, approximately 1 out of every 4 newly diagnosed gonorrhea cases are from Shelby County. Yet, even though this statistic is staggering, it pales next to the fact that as recently as 2007, approximately 1 out of every 2 recorded gonorrhea cases were in Shelby County. In that year, there were more than 4,000 gonorrhea cases in Memphis and the surrounding area. Due to community initiatives, the number of gonorrhea cases in 2014 had fallen to just over 2,000 cases.
Not surprisingly, Shelby County accounts for a large percentage of the state’s HIV/AIDS and syphilis cases as well. In 2014, Shelby County accounted for 79 out of the state’s 239 total syphilis cases. It is worth noting that despite the re-emergence of syphilis as a public health challenge around the country, and particularly in economically depressed areas of the Upper Midwest, Shelby County has had some success in combating syphilis in Collierville, Memphis, and the surrounding area. The number of infections has plummeted from 198 in 2008 to the current almost 15 year low. However, not all doctors actively test their patients for syphilis, and because of this reluctance to test, reported syphilis rates may significantly underestimate the true infection rates in communities across the country.
The above-mentioned statistics clearly highlight that STDs are a major public health challenge in Shelby County, and Tennessee more generally. Because the demographics of Collierville are different than the demographics of Memphis, actual infection rates in Collierville may be significantly lower than the incidence rates seen in larger metropolitan areas. But, Collierville is most definitely not immune from this public health challenge.
STD Testing and Sexual Health Education in Collierville, TN
In many communities, school-based sexual health education can be an extremely controversial subject. This is particularly true in more conservative southern communities, such as Collierville. Many traditionalists believe that sexual health education should either be left to the parents at home or that it should be abstinence-based only. Public health officials and sexual health educators, however, take a very different perspective on the issue. They argue, providing compelling statistical evidence to backup their claims, that abstinence-only programs do a poor job of preventing teenage pregnancies and leave sexually active teenagers vulnerable to a whole host of STDs.
Tennessee, unfortunately, has some of the most antiquated laws in the nation in terms of mandating abstinence-based sexual education. The laws not only stipulate that education programs focus on abstinence, but also hold teachers legally liable if they provide a more nuanced picture to their young students or if they distribute free contraceptives (such as condoms) in the classroom. As part of the Tennessee public school system, Collierville schools utilize the same curriculum that is seen across the state. Therefore, young adults’ sexual health often hinges on the education that they receive from their parents, and clearly, not all parents are comfortable broaching this topic with their teenagers.
Some doctors have also attempted to step into this educational gap. These medical professionals offer information and counseling to individual patients at appointments. However, these outreach efforts are not comprehensive and vary significantly from provider to provider.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Demographics in Collierville, TN
As was noted above, Collierville, Tennessee is an economically prosperous mid-sized town located in close proximity to the urban center of Memphis. Although Collierville is less than a 45-minute car ride from downtown Memphis, the demographics of the two communities could not be any more different.
Like with many older urban centers, Memphis struggles with an economy that has been in the doldrums; it also has high crime rates (many of these crimes are drug-related and gang-fueled). Collierville, on the other hand, is home to families who are relatively well-off. The average family income is above $100,000 per year and many of the residents have college degrees or higher. In general, higher income levels and more education are negatively correlated with STD infection rates. These higher income, well-educated individuals tend to be more likely to use safe sexual practices, and they also, on average, tend to have fewer sexual partners. This negative correlation is not always perfect though.
In addition to being prosperous, Collierville is also a relatively young community, since it is seen as a family friendly mecca. More than 30 percent of the city’s residents are under the age of 18. It is important to note that younger Americans have higher rates of STDs, particularly for gonorrhea and chlamydia. These younger Americans between the ages of 15 and 24 are less likely to regularly use condoms, and due to the growing hook-up culture in America that has normalized casual sexual encounters, they may have a higher than average number of sexual partners. Both of these factors increase the likelihood of contracting an STD. And when drugs and alcohol are added to the mix, which may happen with many teenagers, the risks only skyrocket.
STI Testing Resources in Collierville, TN
Given its close proximity to the urban area of Memphis, Collierville residents who want to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases have a wide variety of testing options available to them.
Since Collierville residents tend to be relatively affluent, many residents prefer to have their testing performed in their private physicians’ offices. This testing option offers many advantages, including the fact that trained medical staff is available to talk to the patient about treatment options, as well as to provide information and counseling about safe sexual health practices. However, some people want to keep their sexual health history private, and therefore, they are reluctant to have testing in their regular doctor’s office.
If privacy is a concern, there are numerous for-pay testing facilities in Memphis and the surrounding area. These facilities have different prices and some offer slightly different testing options (such as rapid versus regular results).
Other individuals may prefer to have their sexual health needs addressed at Planned Parenthood. There is a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Memphis, Tennessee. In addition to offering comprehensive STD testing, this particular Planned Parenthood also provides vaccinations, such as the HPV vaccine that has proven to be highly effective at reducing the rates of cervical cancer among younger women. Although Planned Parenthood may be an appealing option for some people, it does have certain drawbacks. Many clients note that the center is frequently overbooked and under-staffed, and thus, there may be long waits for appointments.
In addition to the options highlighted above, Collierville residents may also consider utilizing the Memphis/Shelby County Health Department for reduced cost testing. The drawback of this option is that it is not easily accessible, particularly for younger people who may not have a car.
Better Sexual Health in Collierville, TN
Collierville, Tennessee is an affluent community where families that work in Memphis choose to live, drawn by the town’s history, stunning homes, outstanding schools, and reputation for being safe and family-friendly. Although most Collierville residents commute 30-45 minutes each day to work in Memphis, there are very few similarities between the two communities. Where Collierville is affluent and educated, Memphis tends to be impoverished and struggling. These struggles have only become more pronounced after the Great American Recession of 2008-2009. And where Collierville is predominantly populated by white families, Memphis is home to a racially mixed group of residents that span the age spectrum.
Yet, despite these striking dissimilarities, both Collierville and Memphis are impacted by the public health challenge of STDs that is sweeping the United States in recent years. Collierville’s prosperity does not buy it immunity from the challenges of syphilis and HIV/AIDS, and many young people in the area are dealing with recent diagnoses of gonorrhea and chlamydia. Continued high STD infection rates in the community should serve to remind residents of the importance of promoting comprehensive sexual health education in the community’s schools.
However, education is just the first step in combating this challenge. Sexually active individuals also have to commit themselves to using safe sexual health practices, as well as to being regularly tested for these diseases.