Even with a college campus within the city, this area carries an image of a city that may be more conservative — or at least more intelligent — when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases. With the exception of the chlamydia rate, which is above the national statistics? almost every STD statistic is below the state average.
- The chlamydia rate of nearly 487 per 100,000 people is above the national rate of 457 per 100,000.
- However, rates of gonorrhea are in the double digits instead of triple digits, and HIV and AIDS rates are way below the national averages.
In the most recent set of statistics available (2015), DeKalb recorded 52 cases of chlamydia, which ranked 54th among all city/county areas in the state of Illinois. Contrast that to 15 years ago, when 242 chlamydia cases crossed city health records. That was 17th in the state.
Here are other comparisons between 2000 and 2015:
- Gonorrhea cases numbered 54 in 2000 but dropped to only five in 2015.
- Early syphilis has never been a big issue with community residents. Just three cases were reported in 2000, while 2015 brought one case to the medical files.
Increased awareness of sexually transmitted diseases in the city have played a big role in the decrease of cases. But these are dramatic drops. What led to such a drop-off? These numbers certainly do not suggest a city that has a major college campus in its center.
A clue to the health of the residents in this city may lie in the demographics. The population of this city is 44,000, up about 13 percent since the year 2000.
Where the median age of Illinois residents is close to 38 years old, residents here average 24.7 years of age in the last data collected. This suggests the presence of a college, of course, but it also suggests a city where there are plenty of young families who could be exposed to sexually transmitted diseases.
There is poverty in the region. Where median household income in Illinois is close to $60,000, it does not even reach $40,000 in this area. The unemployment rate was 5.2 percent in the last check, which was not much different than the 5.1 percent average in Illinois.
All of this suggests a city that stands on its own when it comes to being out in the open. Once you have crossed over Interstate 39, which divides northwest from northeast Illinois, the rambling suburbs and bedroom communities of Chicago are not too far behind. Many of those cities are not like DeKalb, as they have higher incomes and more expensive homes.
The demographics here are mixed, like most diverse cities in Illinois. The population is two-thirds white (66.5 percent), followed by 13.7 percent black, 12.8 percent Hispanic, and 4.5 percent Asian.
The presence of a college in this city doesn’t always mean sexually transmitted diseases will follow. Where some campuses are more Irresponsible when it comes to sexual health, Northern Illinois seems focused on keeping its students safe from harm in more ways than one.
That safety extends to the community. Although the city has had issues in the past with STDs and other ailments, it seems as if the numbers have dwindled over the years. The presence of low-cost or free confidential STD testing means lesser exposure to the evils of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and other diseases.
DeKalb seems to be a model for how to go after STDs and perform HIV testing the right way, lowering the rates in a state that is among the higher ones in the nation for diseases (mainly due to the staggering numbers from Chicago). Still, its proximity to the rural community gives DeKalb a leg up on other cities in the Land of Lincoln.