According to statistics recently released by the CDC and Grayson County Health Department the number of STDs that are reported each year in the Sherman metro area are rising, and this includes this small outlying city. It should be noted that this is a rural county with a noticeably smaller population. This can make the percentages seem smaller, until you take into account the actual number of residents that are testing positive for a STD.
Between 2008 and 2012 the number of HIV cases in the area rose from 117 to 126, giving the small city an infection rate of 103.3. This is significantly higher than those reported in nearby counties, and it only emphasizes the importance of regular STD testing.
It is not just the HIV rates that are increasing, but the number of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea incidents reported each year are also rising. This is especially true for teens and young adults. Women ages 20 to 24 account for over 40 percent of the Chlamydia incidents diagnosed each year, with the majority occurring in African American and Hispanic females. Gonorrhea rates in women and men are also rising, especially in African American males.
While Syphilis incidents in the county are well below state and national averages, health officials warn that this will soon change unless everyone starts getting tested on a regular basis.
Some of the other statistics recently released that show the growing problem with STDs include,
- The small city reported an HIV rate of 103.3 in 2012.
- In 2014 the Chlamydia rate was 303.9 per 100,000 residents.
- African American and Hispanic men are among those with the highest risk for contracting HIV and Syphilis.
While the state does require its public schools to provide high school students with scientifically proven information on HIV/AIDS and STDs this is as far as their curriculum goes when it comes to sex education. Public schools are not required to offer sex education, but if they do it must be abstinence based. This means that the majority of students will graduate from high school not understanding all of the risks and responsibilities that come with being sexually active.
Instead of teaching teens and young adults how to protect themselves, these abstinence based classes often make students feel ashamed if they are sexually active. This makes it difficult for teens to discuss their feelings or any problems that they might be experiencing due to sexual activity. If students feel like they have no one to talk to most will simply ignore any potential problem and since STDs do not “go away” this is also putting everyone that they come in contact with potentially at risk.
The importance of always using protection during intercourse is never discussed, even though the teen pregnancy rate is rising almost as fast as the number of STDs that are reported annually. The importance of regular HIV testing in East Grayson is also not discussed, even though students are taught that the simple procedure is the only way to positively detect the disease. Regular Herpes testing in East Grayson is never discussed, even though it is the best way to stop of the spread of this highly contagious virus.
There are several reasons why the number of sexually transmitted diseases reported each year is rising. Its rural location does limit the number of STI clinics in the area, and this can make it more difficult for residents to find one that is centrally located. This also affects the amount of funding that is allocated for health care, and due to recent budget cuts several of the city’s testing facilities have been forced to close their doors. Over 11 percent of the population is below the national poverty line and now that STD testing is no longer covered by Medicaid many of these low income families simply cannot afford the fees.
Older residents are staying sexually active longer, thanks to advances in medicine. Unfortunately the majority of the city’s residents over 40 have never received any type of sex education. This is being cited as one of the reasons why HIV and Syphilis incidents are so high in adults over the age of 40.
The lack of sex education is also affecting the STD rates in teens and young adults. The majority of whom do not fully understand how sexually transmitted diseases are spread, and they certainly do not realize how important it is to be tested on a regular basis. Until these and other issues are resolved the small city can expect to see its STD rates continue to rise.
While spending a day drifting down the Red River is always preferable to standing in line at a STI clinic, it is still important that you take care of your sexual health. If you want to avoid the long lines and crowded waiting rooms you can simply make one phone call to schedule confidential STD testing. This way you only have to spend a few minutes at a conveniently located lab, which still leaves you with plenty of time to enjoy the river or even nearby Lake Texoma.