In brief, Florida has a serious problem when it comes to sexual health. For example, the Miami Herald points out that the state has been seeing new cases of HIV on a more frequent basis even though the United States as a whole has been seeing new cases of HIV on a less frequent basis. This is particularly true in Miami-Wade and Broward Counties, which had the number 1 and 2 spots on a per 100,000 people basis in the entire country for 2014. Even worse, the situation shows no signs of improvement, which is made clear by how the two countries were responsible for 38 percent of the 6,240 new cases in 2015.
This is supported by other pieces of less than encouraging news when it comes to sexual health matters in the Sunshine State. For example, Florida ranked 4th out of the 50 states when it came to primary and secondary syphilis with 7.8 cases per 100,000 people in 2013.
Most of these cases came about because of transmissions from adult to adult, but it is important to note that there were also 143 cases of congenital syphilis between 2009 and 2013.
Likewise, other STD statistics show reason for serious concern, ranging from 415.1 cases of chlamydia per 100,000 people and 107.8 cases of gonorrhea per 100,000 people to reported increases in the rates of acute Hepatitis B and C between 2009 and 2013. The last point is particularly concerning because of a 133 percent increase, which is rather problematic because of the causative relationship between Hepatitis C and chronic liver disease, which has become a leading cause of death among Americans.
Based on this, sexual health education in the state of Florida seems lacking. This is supported by an offhand mention of a 2013 survey of high school students in a CDC report on HIV, which revealed that 48.2 percent of the students who were surveyed stated that they had sex at some point but that no more than 35.7 percent of them had bothered to use a condom the last time that they had done so. Considering how simple it is to use a condom as well as how serious the consequences of unsafe sex can be, this makes it clear that something is not going right in the state.
It has been suggested that the problem can be traced to the Department of Education in the state. Although there is a program in place to provide teachers with the tools and training needed to provide their students with the resources needed to protect their sexual health, it is interesting to note that Floridian law mandates the teaching of abstinence as a component of sexual health education but leaves the rest to the local authorities, meaning that there is significant variation in the state’s sexual health education from place to place. Combined with the resources that are being poured into abstinence-focused programs as opposed to more comprehensive programs, this has resulted in lackluster results when it comes to sexual health education in the state.
This is supported by the rising rate of STDs in recent times in the state, with a particularly striking example being syphilis in Broward County, which has seen a 400 percent increase since 2000. Even worse, syphilis is one of those STDs that people can have without knowing that they have it, so much so that around half of the people who become infected in the United States on an annual basis remain unaware of its presence in their bodies.
The state’s demographics are not unusual. For example, 48.8 percent of its population is male and 51.2 percent of its population is female. Furthermore, around 59 percent of its population was White, around 22 percent of its population was Hispanic, around 15 percent of its population was Black, and around 4 percent of its population was Other in 2011, which were a somewhat higher proportion of Blacks and Hispanics as well as a somewhat lower proportion of Whites relative to the national average.
Finally, around 22 percent of its population was younger than 22 years of age, around 60 percent of its population was between 19 and 64 years of age, and 18 percent of its population was older than 64 years of age, meaning that the state has a bigger proportion of seniors compared to the national average.
Regardless, the current situation in the state shows that no segment of the population is safe from the STD threat. For example, some people believe that STDs are less of an issue for seniors because of less active sex lives, but evidence suggests that this is not true, as shown by a 60 percent increase in cases of chlamydia and syphilis among those 55 years of age and older in South Florida between 2005 and 2009 as well as a 70 percent increase for their counterparts living in Central Florida.
In part, this seems to be because people are living longer, healthier lives, which in turn, means that they are remaining sexually active later and later. However, it should also be noted that both men and women are making use of pharmaceuticals and other products to enable their sexual activities. Whatever the exact cause, this means that seniors who are sexually active in the state should be just as cautious about the spread of STDs as their younger counterparts if they want to ensure their continuing well-being.
Of course, other segments of the population are just as susceptible to the spread of STDs as seniors if not more so, particularly because of the current situation in the state. As a result, no matter who they are, Floridians should make sure to exercise an appropriate level of caution and consideration in regards to their sexual activity in order to protect their sexual health.
Fortunately, so long as residents are willing to put in the time and effort, there is no reason to believe that they will not be able to protect themselves from STDs and other potential threats to their sexual health. STD clinics should be considered an important component of their plans in this regard, partly because of how said institutions can keep them up-to-date on their personal condition and partly because of how said institutions can point them towards other resources for achieving the same purpose. Regardless, what residents and visitors should remember above all is that STDs are a real threat in the state much as they have always been, meaning that they need to pay attention when it comes to protecting themselves. After all, they are their best line of defense against such threats, meaning that they cannot afford to let down their guard.