The city of Erie has been seeing the same rise in STD rates that has been plaguing the rest of the state, but statistics released by the county health department indicate that some of the sexually transmitted infections may be decreasing slightly in frequency. This is good news for residents who have been at an increased risk for contracting any one of the common STDs for the past twenty years.
Between 2012 and 2013 the rates for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea have fallen by 30.5 and 8.6 percent respectively. This applies to residents in all demographics, especially teens and young adults. Unfortunately for residents of this lakeside city this is where the good news ends.
The same statistics also show that the rates for Syphilis and HIV are on the rise, and if left untreated both of these STDs can result in eventual death. The Herpes virus is also showing signs that it is more prevalent in area schools, which means teens are at a higher risk for contracting this easily spread STD. While increasing Herpes rates are problematic it is not as worrisome to state and county health officials as the rapidly rising HIV and Syphilis rates.
Since 2011 the rate for Syphilis has more than doubled, with the majority of the cases occurring in the twelve month period between 2012 and 2013. The same is also true for HIV/AIDS, which has left health officials wondering what is causing the rapid increase in the disease’s frequency. Some of the statistics that residents should be aware of include,
- In 2011 the Syphilis rate was reported at 2.5 compared to 6.1 reported in 2013.
- In 2013 there were 282 cases of HIV reported in the city and county, compared to the total 294 in the first 6 months of 2016.
The state does not require its public schools to offer comprehensive sex education, though all must provide medically accurate information on the spread of HIV and other STDs. While this is a step towards teaching students about the risks and responsibilities that come with being sexually active, there is still a large gap in their education.
Abstinence is still primarily taught as being the best form of protection. Even though it will effectively prevent unplanned pregnancies, it is not enough to stop the spread of all STDs. Some of these viruses can be easily transmitted through simple contact. This means that everyone could potentially be at risk.
Since area schools do not offer comprehensive sex education classes, many students do not understand how easy it is to contract and spread any of the STDs. The use of condoms is rarely discussed, even though surveys show that the majority of graduating seniors are sexually active before graduation. Not only can prophylactics protect against sexually transmitted diseases, they are also an effective way to prevent pregnancies.
Students also aren’t taught the importance of being tested for STDs, even if they aren’t sexually active. Regular Herpes testing in Erie is the best way for students to protect themselves, and stop the spread of the virus through area high schools. Regular HIV testing in Erie is also important, especially now that infection rates are rising in the community.
Demographics play a significant role in the city’s STD rates. As the fourth largest city in the state population does affect the number of sexually transmitted infections reported annually, but it is not the only contributing factor.
Strong conservative beliefs, political and religious are also affecting the way the city deals with its rising STD rate. Instead of providing residents with the information they need to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases, many are made to feel ashamed and embarrassed if they feel that they might have contracted an STD. This means that many of them are not getting tested, and this is putting everyone’s health at risk.
The lack of comprehensive sex education programs in the public school system is one of the main contributing factors to the high STD rates. If students do not know that their behavior could be putting them at risk, they won’t realize the importance of getting tested on a regular basis. This also makes it easy for teens and young adults to pass the infection onto someone else.
City leaders and health officials cite federal budget cuts as another reason STD rates are rising at an alarming rate. Some neighborhood health clinics have been forced to close due to lack of funding, and this is making it difficult for many residents to find a convenient place to be tested.
Until these and other problems are resolved the city can expect to see its STI rates continue to rise.
Before you spend the day at Splash Lagoon or out on the lake, it is important that you take a few minutes to think about your sexual health. The number of STDs reported annually is rising, and the best way to protect yourself is to get tested on a regular basis. It is understandable if you don’t want to wait in a long line at a local STI clinic, and now there is a faster way to take care of your sexual health. With one phone call you can schedule confidential STD testing, and only spend a few minutes of your day at a local lab. It is quick, easy and you don’t have to wait for hours at a neighborhood clinic.