All of the hospitals, STD testing centers and private physicians collect data from STD tests which are performed in the city. The information is then passed on to the Center for Disease Control for inclusion in a nationwide database. No personal information is shared so you can rest assured that your privacy and confidentiality is strictly protected. Demographic data which includes area of residence, age, ethnicity and gender are used to determine which groups of people are at the highest risk for contracting certain STDs.
Analysts and statisticians working with local health departments compile the information which shows a high degree of consistency for who is at the greatest risk for a particular STD and it is used to target these groups with educational campaigns in order to encourage them to seek testing and if necessary, treatment if the testing results are positive. The following statistics show the rates of selected STD infections per 100,000 in population.
- Chlamydia- 446.5
- Gonorrhea- 73.5
- Syphilis- 21.7
Although the numbers are high and cause concern, health department officials believe that if everyone in the highest risk groups would get tested for STD infection, these figures would increase. There is evidence to support the concern among health professionals that the sexual health of residents in this area is at risk because of the high numbers combined with other factors which could exacerbate the situation.
Attempts are currently underway to reach target populations with educational resources about STD rates and risk factors. The statistics show that the risk for people age 15 to 19 years of age is increasing. Health department and government officials have worked in a collaborative effort to mandate sexual health education in all of the public schools. The courses are provided just prior to the age at which some youth begin sexual experimentation. Information about the consequences of unprotected sex including unwanted pregnancy and STDs is presented. After completion of the classes, students know where to get a Herpes test and where to go for HIV testing in the area.
There are many pockets of poverty in this area and it is a contributing factor for high risk for STD infection. People with little financial resources are less likely to have access to educational information and quality health care services for STD testing and treatment. The public school dropout rate is higher in impoverished areas and these students. Some will miss the opportunity for sexual health education at this important and formative stage of life.
Other factors in addition to low income levels are age, gender and ethnicity which also play a role in elevating risk for certain STDs. Chlamydia is twice as high in women than men. Those in the 20 -24 age group have the highest positive test results followed by those 15-19, then 25 to 29. Persons of Black ethnicity have the highest rates followed by Hispanics, then Whites.
The rates for Gonorrhea are slightly higher for men than for women. Men in the 20 to 24 age group rank the highest followed by those 25 to 29 with 30 to 34 being the next highest, then age 15-19. Syphilis in all stages is less common, but is becoming more widespread, particularly in those who have male to male sex and it is more frequently diagnosed in populations who have also tested HIV positive. There is also a higher rate of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea in these groups.
After the highest risk groups for certain STDs is determined, the information gives health officials a target to aim for with educational campaigns. While there are STD testing centers in the area that offer free or reduced rates for people who meet income guidelines for qualification, there is a limited amount of funding available. When block funding is depleted, there may be a waiting period until it is replenished. During this period of time, people who are unaware that they are infected may continue to spread STDs to others.
Do you really need STD testing? Each and every person who is in an at risk group, or who has had unprotected sex with a person of questionable monogamy, should get STD testing. Certain STDs can lead to further health complications which also include infertility and problems with pregnancy/delivery. There are other potential consequences which can lead to serious issues with your overall health.
Some STDs present few or no symptoms in the initial stages and the only way to know for certain is to get tested. The ordering and completion process is quick and easy. It will take less than a half hour of your time to drop by a local clinic. Professional and friendly lab technicians are available to assist you with testing and answer any questions that you may have.
When you have completed the testing process, you will be relieved that you followed through. For a few minutes of your time, you will gain peace of mind if the results are negative. If they are positive you will be able to get the treatment and care that you need sooner so you can avoid further health complications. You owe it to yourself and to your loved ones to protect your sexual health.