STD statistics are compiled by county in Georgia. According to Cobb & Douglas County Public Health the current reported rates of infection are:
- Chlamydia rates for the county are 518 infections per 100,000.
- Early syphilis is 3 per 100,000.
- Gonorrhea is 321 per 100,000.
- HIV is 150 per 100,000.
- Primary and secondary syphilis are 300,000.
The good news is the rates for syphilis and HIV are lower than the national rate but our rates for chlamydia and gonorrhea are not so positive. Despite many improvements in health care, gonorrhea and chlamydia rates have seen an upward trend since 2010 which causes us to wonder if the new dating and hook up apps like tinder and grindr as well as the inconsistent sex education in local schools is causing are contributing to the increased transmission of STDs. Georgia follows the trend of the rest of the Southeast and has some of the highest rates of STDs in the country. In 2012 Georgia was ranked
- 8th in the US for chlamydia.
- 5th in the US for gonorrhea.
- 1st for primary and secondary syphilis.
STD testing is used to diagnose sexually transmitted diseases. Diagnosis leads to treatment options that safeguard against further transmission of the disease and reduction of long-term health effects. Common tests offered in Douglasville include:
- bacterial vaginosis (BV)
- genital warts
In addition to testing the health educators can provide counseling, birth control, and treatment plans. Just because sex is private doesn’t mean there aren’t experts out there whose role is to help you maintain your sexual health.
Cobb County school district controls all curriculum to be taught in the field of health including sexual education. However like many Georgia school districts the Cobb and Douglas County schools are falling below the grade for their sexual health education. Local schools are reported as failing to teach all of the recommended sexual education topics. Georgia law mandates that sexual and HIV education put key emphasis on abstinence-until-marriage. This doesn’t preclude students from being provided with skills to avoid STDs and pregnancy, however our kids are not getting a clear message about how to keep safe. Our “Choosing the Best” sex education curriculum teaches students the risks of condom use rather than the importance of condom use and data shows that abstinence only curricula doesn’t delay sexual activity but instead increases risky sexual behavior.
Fortunately for Douglasville residents there are free and income-based clinics aimed at providing adult health education services including STD information and testing. One of the challenges to local health providers is ensuring adults, who may have missed appropriate sexual education in their high school years, are adequately educated as they begin to engage in relationships.
Opening the conversation about healthy sexual behavior as an ongoing topic that changes as we mature is key to reducing our current STD statistics and educating our community about sharing responsible sexual practices. With issues like STDs, transgender populations, and same sex marriage making headlines regularly, informing our youth with accurate, age-appropriate material has never been more important.
Douglasville has a population of just over 30,000 people with a density of 1400 per square mile. The population density in Douglasville is 735% higher than much of Georgia’s meaning that it is a much more urban and much less of a farm community than is typical for our state. The median age in the community is 34 and we have a male to female ratio of .8 to 1 which puts it pretty close to even.
- 35% of the population is Caucasian
- 60% is African-American
- Just over 2 .5% is Asian
Douglasville has a median household income of $47,000 and there is an unemployment rate of 7.3%. Almost 20% are living at or below the poverty level and the crime rates are fairly high for a city this size. Although we aren’t seeing major crimes like murder we do have high levels of theft, burglary, and assault. With 87% of the people in Douglasville completing high school but only 27% completing a bachelor’s degree, what we’re dealing with is a population who are under-educated living in times where economic situations are tough. This can be a huge factor that contributes to the spread of STDs according to national data.
Douglasville is a family friendly and growing community. This pocket of STD infections risks continued growth if regular testing doesn’t happen. Fortunately there are better ways to take care of sexual health in our county. Now you can make a simple phone call or schedule confidential STD testing on-line avoiding both the chance of running into someone you know as well as potentially long wait times. There are also Free STD Testing Centers and these STD clinics offer cost effective solutions to keep you healthy. Removing the stress of not knowing is well worth a visit to a local testing facility!