According to statistics recently released by the CDC and Bristol County Health Department the number of sexually transmitted diseases reported in the city is rising among certain demographics. Over the last twenty years the STD rates have been rising in the state and county, and it is finally catching the attention of local health officials.
Even though the recent statistics show that the STD rate for the city and county is well below state and national averages, when you factor in the area’s small population and compare it to the STD rates they are actually high for the area. This has health officials concerned that residents are not taking responsibility for their sexual health.
The statistics also show an interesting trend. The number of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea incidents are decreasing in teens and adults under the age of 22, but the same is not true for older residents. Men and women ages 24 to 28 are among those with the highest risk for contracting a STD, and this includes Syphilis and HIV.
Men account for the majority of HIV and Syphilis incidents in the city, while Chlamydia affects more women. When it comes to Gonorrhea that number of cases reported in women is decreasing, but it is rising in men. The Herpes virus is also spreading at an alarming rate, especially in area high schools.
Some of the other statistics that highlight the growing STD problem and the need for regular testing include,
- The Chlamydia rate in 2015 was 296.6 per 100,000 residents with the majority of incidents in women ages 24 to 28 years of age.
- The HIV rate for Bristol County in 2015 was 243.4 per 100,000 residents.
- There were two incidents of early latent Syphilis reported in the county for 2015.
In 2015 the state senate passed a bill that now requires public schools to include medically accurate and comprehensive information in their sex education classes. While students will still be taught that abstinence is the best choice, they will also learn about the importance of using condoms if they do decide to become sexually active.
While this is a positive first step most local health officials agree that more needs to be done to help educate students and their parents about the risks associated with STDs and the various ways these diseases can be spread.
The reason health officials are concerned is that the new law does not require public schools to actually offer sex education classes, only that if they do the program must include information that is medically accurate and pertains to today’s teens. Unfortunately, public schools that do not want to include information on contraception can simply decide not to provide these classes to their students. This means that a large number of teens and young adults still do not understand how important it is to be tested regular or that they behaviors could be putting their health at risk.
Residents often do not understand how important regular HIV testing in Fall River is or that the simple procedure is the only way to positively detect the disease. The same is true regarding regular Herpes testing in Fall River, and it could help prevent the virus from continuing to spread through the city’s high schools.
There are several factors that are causing the STD rates to rise in the city and surrounding county. One reason is the lack of sex education programs, and this is leaving teens unprepared. Many do not realize that STDs can be spread through a variety of methods and that it is important to get tested regularly regardless of sexual activity.
It is not uncommon for teens to graduate without understanding how important it is to always use protection, even if it is a monogamous relationship. The same is also true for older residents who don’t have easy access to the information they need to protect themselves from STDs. Adults are also staying active sexually longer, and this is also contributing to the high STD rates.
The small city is also dealing with a lack of community testing centers, and this is making it difficult for residents to take care of their sexual health. The few STI clinics that are open often have long lines that many residents don’t want to spend the day standing in. Lower income residents are also finding it difficult to afford regular testing since the simple procedure is no longer covered under Medicaid. The new government health care plan is being blamed as one of the main reasons that STD rates are rising across the city and state.
Before you tour Lizzie’s home it is important to take a few minutes to take care of your sexual health. The number of STDs reported each year is rising, and this means that everyone should be tested regularly for all sexually transmitted diseases. It is understandable if you don’t want to spend the entire day waiting in line at a community clinic, and now you don’t have to since you can easily schedule confidential STD testing with one simple phone call. This way you only have to spend a few minutes at a local lab, which still gives you plenty of time to explore the historic city.