Larger cities have their own special problems. With a greater influx of migrations of new citizens from other countries and a constant flow of visitors, health statistics become a focal point of health departments and the Center for Disease Control. It isn’t because Everett is unique or targeted for scrutiny, but simply because of its size and the trends and patterns in how diseases are spread that this action is taken. For several decades, the CDC has been monitoring the number of STD cases that prevail in the area. Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HIV, Syphilis, Herpes and Hepatitis B and C rates are rising. The increase of any disease in a population is reason for concern. STD testing centers and clinics offering free or reduced rates are available to provide private and confidential testing services. Ordering the testing is easy and it only requires a follow up visit to a local lab for completion. The lab visit just takes 15 to 20 minutes.
All health care providers who offer testing for STDs are diligent in forwarding the results and demographic information to local health departments, who in turn remit the data to the CDC. This is done so there is a record of the infection rates for monitoring the status of the problem. The reports generated help in determining what percentage of the population are affected, whether rates are rising or falling and the characteristics of the people who are most frequently diagnosed. Personal information that could be used to identify individuals is not submitted in accordance with privacy and confidentiality guidelines. This ensures that all clients can get their testing with the confidence that their information is protected and that they will remain anonymous. The following chart shows the rates for specific STD testing results in the area per 100,000 in population.
- Chlamydia- 384.0
- Gonorrhea- 78.1
- Syphilis (all stages)- 16.3
The data for the last five years shows that there has been a steady rise in the cases of Syphilis, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia. It suggests that the problem, although not the worst in the nation, is significant and is heading towards epidemic proportions.
STD testing in this region is influenced by the large number of people migrating to the area. Everett is close to Seattle which is a hub for immigrant processing. This means that people from other countries are coming and going at a fairly constant rate. Some choose to reside in the area for brief periods, and others for longer. Not all people who live in the area have had education about maintaining sexual health or safe sex practices. In addition, many do not know that the city has high STD rates or that they are at risk themselves. Although STD testing clinics exist and there are also programs that offer free or reduced rates for testing, not everyone is aware that they are available. Those with no healthcare coverage and little financial backing may not know that there is help available for them. This makes it more difficult to get an accurate assessment of actual STD rates in the area because of the constantly changing demographics. Health department officials believe that the actual infection rates are higher than the recorded rates because not all people who are at high risk have been tested.
The government has taken proactive measures in an attempt to improve the sexual health of this city and the nation as a whole. Educational campaigns to distribute literature, provide public service announcements and sponsored educational forums are currently underway. Sex education classes in public schools give students useful information about the dangers of unprotected sex and how to observe safe sex practices. Upon completion, students know where to go for Herpes, HIV and other types of STD testing.
Women who participate in prenatal health care programs with their health care providers are routinely screened for STD infection. This has helped to lessen the number of babies who are affected with these diseases at birth. STD testing for others is done on a strictly voluntary basis and until more people who are at risk are assessed, the problem of rising rates is apt to become worse.
Anyone who has had unprotected sexual contact is technically at risk. The risk is low in monogamous relationships with two healthy people. Certain factors increase the risk dramatically. If you’re unsure about your partner’s faithfulness or health, if you have sex with multiple partners or if you have unusual symptoms you are in a category for high risk and should get tested as soon as possible. Ordering the testing is fast and it is easy to do. After ordering, you’re almost finished with the process. The final step is to make a quick visit to a local lab to complete the testing. It should take no more than fifteen to twenty minutes at the lab. Professional technicians will be there to assist you and answer any questions that you may have about the testing process. When you are done with this part, your test will be processed shortly and your results will be on their way. Testing for STDs is private and confidential and if you can’t afford the full fees or lack health insurance coverage, there are centers that offer reduced rates or free services upon meeting income guidelines. If you believe you are at any risk, get the test so you can enjoy peace of mind.