The CDC and Oklahoma County Health Department recently released statistics that show that the STD rates are rising in the metro area, and have been for the past twenty years. For a suburb that was once listed as one of the “top 100 places to live” by Relocate American, these statistics are surprising.
While nationally Chlamydia rates are dropping, the same is not true for the metro area. The number of incidents reported each year is rising, especially in women. Gonorrhea incidents are also increasing in women and men, though females ages 18 to 24 account for over 50 percent of the cases reported each year. Gonorrhea is also the second most commonly reported STD in the area, only slightly behind Chlamydia.
The rates for other STDs are also rising, and this has local health officials worried. HIV and Syphilis incidents are increasing in frequency, and men over the age of 24 are among those with the greatest risk for contracting one or both of these sexually transmitted diseases. The reason these rates have health officials worried is that a little over ten years ago they had thought that they had these STDs well under control. The increase in HIV/AIDS and infectious Syphilis diagnoses only highlights the need for regular STD testing.
The recent statistics do show some good news, overall Hepatitis B and C incidents have significantly decreased after reaching all-time highs in 2011. Here are some of the other statistics that residents should be aware of,
- In 2015 the rates for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea were higher than the state and national averages.
- The Syphilis rate for the metro area was almost three times higher than state averages in 2016.
- Men accounted for over 50 percent of the HIV/AIDS cases reported in 2015.
Even with STD and teen pregnancy rates rising the state still does not require its public schools to provide comprehensive sex education classes for students. Medically accurate information on HIV and STDs must be taught, but state law does not specify in which class it will be included in. State law also requires those public school districts that choose to offer sex education classes must use material that is abstinence based.
Currently a new bill is before the state congress that would also require public schools to include information on the moral implications of abortion. Opponents of the bill point out that there are no benefits to implementing it in the classroom, and in doing so it could actually cause the number of teen pregnancies and reported STDs to significantly rise.
Even though many students that do receive sex education in school are made to feel ashamed and embarrassed if they are sexually active, most health officials agree that some information on how STDs are spread is better than none. Public schools are also required to include information on the use of condoms, but students are rarely told where they can get them.
Due to the abstinence based curriculum many teens and some adults are too ashamed to get regular HIV testing in Edmond, even though they know that this potentially deadly disease can be passed by various methods. This also applies to regular Herpes testing in Edmond.
There are several reasons why the STD rate is increasing in this suburb, but the main contributing factor is the lack or type of information in the public schools sex education programs. The abstinence based classes often make teens feel ashamed and embarrassed, and this can affect them for the rest of their life. Teens and even some adults are too embarrassed to admit that there might be a problem, and this also makes it difficult for them to get tested. The last thing they want is to be seen by someone they know standing in line at a community STI clinic.
Misinformation is also affecting the STD rate, and it is also causing some residents to believe that a sexually transmitted disease could never happen to them. Unfortunately this is not true, which means that it is important for everyone to be tested for all STDs on a regular basis. Until everyone in the suburb understands this the number of sexually transmitted diseases reported each year will continue to rise.
Budget cuts to health care are making it difficult for lower income residents to afford STD testing, especially since the simple procedure is no longer covered under Medicaid. The same cuts in funding has also forced many clinics to close their doors, which has made it difficult for everyone to find a convenient testing facility. Until these and other issues are resolved the number of residents that contract a STD will continue to rise.
Before you head into down Oklahoma City it is important to take a few minutes to think about your sexual health. The number of STDs reported in the metro area are rising, and that includes this quaint suburb. It is understandable if you don’t want to spend the day waiting in line, and now you don’t have to. With one simple phone call you can easily schedule confidential STD testing and only spend a few minutes at a nearby lab. This way you still have plenty of time to experience all that the city’s downtown has to offer.