This small city has been dealing with health problems caused by polluted drinking water on top of its high STD rate which is why officials are so quick to point out that Chlamydia rates have actually dropped in the last couple of years. While this is good news for the beleaguered city, it should be noted that these rates are still higher than those reported in other areas in the state.
The recently released statistics by the CDC and state health department also note that the rates for the other STDs are increasing. Gonorrhea rates are up in men, though the number of women who contract this common STI seem to be decreasing. Herpes infections are up in area high schools, and the city’s small Hispanic community is testing positive for Hepatitis B with increasing frequency.
If these statistics are not enough to worry local health officials the simple fact that HIV and infectious Syphilis rates are also up. While HIV/AIDS diagnoses are up across the state it seems to be effecting Flint and surrounding Genesee County harder than some other places.
The statistics also show that African American residents are almost twice as likely to contract Chlamydia and Gonorrhea as other ethnicities, and residents 18 to 24 years old are among those with the highest risk. While these STIs are more commonly diagnosed in younger residents the same in not necessarily true for HIV and infectious Syphilis. These potentially deadly diseases are more prevalent in older residents. Some of the other statistics that highlight the growing STD problem in the city include
- In 2014 there were 2,925 cases of Chlamydia diagnosed in the city with over 50 percent occurring in African Americans.
- Gonorrhea diagnoses reached 763 in 2014, a slight increase over the previous year.
- Infectious Syphilis was diagnosed in 35 residents for the twelve month period in 2014.
The state and city follow the guidelines set down by the government in the 1980’s regarding its sexual education programs in the public school system. Designed to combat the rising number of HIV infections occurring across the nation at the time, many health officials now consider the information taught in these programs to be obsolete.
While the city’s public schools do include medically accurate information on HIV, the classes are based mainly on the benefits of abstinence. Students are taught that abstinence is the best way to prevent STDs, even though these viruses can still be spread through various methods that do not include sexual activity.
The importance of using protection is also not included in the curriculum, and this is putting students and residents’ health at risk. Not only can condoms help prevent unplanned pregnancies, they can also provide protection from sexually transmitted diseases.
Students also do not learn about the importance of STI screenings and how it is often the only method to detect the presence of these diseases. Regular Herpes testing in Flint can help protect students from the easily spread virus, and even prevent future flare-ups. The importance of regular HIV testing in Flint cannot be stressed enough, especially since the rate of infection is rising in the city and across the state.
There are several reasons why the city and county have such a high STD rate. The city has been dealing with the same economic hardships as the rest of the state, and many residents simply cannot afford the added cost of STD testing. Budget cuts and changes to Medicare have forced many STI clinics to close their doors, and now that testing is not covered under government sponsored health insurance it is difficult for many residents to afford to get tested even once a year.
The recent hardships that the city has suffered has caused some residents to not be concerned about their sexual health, especially after learning that many of them were already sick due to the water they were drinking. With cancer and other problems becoming more prevalent it is hard for residents to be concerned with the threat of STDs.
One of the major contributing factors to the skyrocketing STD rates is the lack of education available for students and residents. It is not uncommon for students to graduate from high school without understanding how easy it can be to contract a STD. Since most teens never go for STI testing it is not uncommon for them to be positive for a sexually transmitted disease and not even realize it.
As long as residents do not realize how important it is for their health and those around them that they get tested for all sexually transmitted diseases the STD rates for the city will continue to increase.
The importance of regular STD testing cannot be stressed enough regardless of your sexual activity. Before you spend the day wandering through the city’s shops and museums it is important that you make time to get tested. If you want to avoid the long lines at the community clinics you can schedule confidential STD testing simply by making one phone call. It will only take a few minutes of your time at a local lab and you can feel good knowing that you took care of your sexual health.