The city is fortunate to have access to a wealth of information about the health of its citizens. The Center for Disease Control does a remarkable job of working with all local health care providers to compile relevant information about certain diseases including a variety of STDs. All testing results in the area are forwarded to them where analysts create reports that show how the city is doing. They collect information on the type of testing done, area of residence, age, ethnicity, gender and financial status. This is helpful in determining what the greatest risk factors are for each particular disease. The following table shows the rates of STD infection per 100,000 people in this area.
- Syphilis (all stages) -28.1
- Gonorrhea – 105.1
- Chlamydia – 422.1
The rates are significantly higher than they were in the last 20 years. This creates the urgency for better strategies to educate people about their risks and about how to prevent getting these diseases altogether. Even though the numbers are already high, if people from the highest risk groups would get tested, the rates would most likely go up.
The people who are least likely to be tested for STDs are those who are either unaware of their risks or those who cannot afford to get tested. In most cases a lack of knowledge or misinformation about symptoms and available resources are the culprits. This is more predominant in areas of high concentrations of people who live at or below the poverty level. They generally lack access to education and financial resources for quality health care. Many do not know that there are testing centers that provide free or reduced rates on services in addition to privacy and confidentiality. What this means is that there is a high likelihood that there are thousands of people who fall into at risk categories who are not getting tested for one reason or another.
Certain populations are at a greater risk than others. Information on testing data shows that Blacks and Hispanics have higher positive rates, followed by Whites. Chlamydia is twice as frequent in female populations than in men while men have higher rates for Syphilis and Gonorrhea. Those who are age 20 to 24 have more frequent positives followed by the 15 to 19 age group. If a greater segment of the population were to get tested, these statistics could change, but for the time being, this is the most current data that is available. The trends have remained fairly consistent over the past five years and when it comes to predicting risk factors, these have a decent degree of accuracy.
This is why gathering demographic information is vital for evaluating risk factors and infection rates. It is not fully understood exactly why rates are higher in these groups, but it is assumed to be because of social attitudes and behaviors that are consistent within the groups. There is no need to be concerned about your personal information being shared because you are fully protected by current laws on confidentiality in medical testing. The only reason that demographic data is being collected is to plan for better ways to predict risk factors and follow up with the needed resources to help control the spread of these diseases.
Because of the high numbers of people who are testing positive for STD infection, there is a need to get more information out to the people who may not be aware of their peril. It’s time to get people thinking about their sexual health and additionally, to give them information about resources that are within their reach. Increased educational campaigns paired with more programs to supplement the distribution of services that aid in the prevention and treatment of STDs is needed.
Any time that you engage in unprotected sex, you have the potential for getting an STD. Unless you know that your partner is not having sex with multiple partners and does not have an STD themselves, there is a risk. Some people believe that if they do not have any symptoms that they are in the clear. This may be true to some extent, but some STDs do not present themselves with symptoms in the beginning stages. I is best to catch these diseases before they progress and cause more damage to your health. Getting tested is a simple process that involves easy ordering and a brief visit to a local lab to finish the process. Qualified and friendly staff will complete your testing, answer your questions and have you on your way quickly. You’ll be relieved and glad that you did because there is great peace of mind in knowing the status of your health.