Local hospitals, private physicians and STD testing centers collect information about the STD testing services that they provide. The data that they gather does not include any information that would compromise the confidentiality of the clients who are tested so privacy is strictly protected. Demographic information including gender, area of residence, ethnicity, age and type of STD for positives is sent to local health authorities and the center for disease control for inclusion in a large database.
This information is used to help in determining which groups of people are at the highest risk for contracting particular STDs. In turn, people within these groups are targeted for educational outreach programs to alert them to their risk levels. The following numbers shows the results for this region with the rates of STD infection for each type of STD per 100,000 in population.
These numbers are only representative of the percentage of people who have been tested. Health department officials believe that the actual count would rise if all people who are in the highest risk groups for STD infection would get tested.
One of the greatest problems that health officials are facing is reaching people who are at the greatest risk with educational information. Many are suspected to carry STD infections without being aware of it. This greatly increases the chances of the epidemic reaching higher levels quickly. Campaigns are already underway to reach all segments of the population about the risks and consequences of unprotected sex.
Public schools in the state are mandated to include sexual health education classes for students just prior to the time when some of them may begin sexual experimentation. Students who complete these courses will know where they can go for a herpes test or for HIV testing in the city. In addition, they learn about common symptoms which are associated with some types of sexually transmitted diseases, and that there may not be any symptoms initially. This effort is intended to reach youth before they make the decision to engage in unprotected sex because the data shows that numbers of STD infection in this age group is going up each year.
This region has a high rate of poverty which has an impact upon STD testing rates and overall sexual health. People who live in poverty may not have the opportunities for access to educational materials that others do. They may not fully understand their risk for contracting an STD, nor be aware of common symptoms. In addition, a lack of finances can make it difficult or impossible to secure quality healthcare services for STD testing and treatment. This compounds the problem of rising STD rates.
There are free STD testing centers available in the area, and they do offer reduced or free rates for those who qualify according to income levels. There are two drawbacks associated with gaining access to free clinics. The first is that not all people who need the services are aware that they exist. The second is that these clinics operate on a set amount of funding which is allocated per cycle. When the funds are depleted, those who are in need of free or reduced cost testing will need to wait until the start of a new funding cycle.
The incidences of Chlamydia infection are nearly double for women than they are for men. Those in the 20 to 24 year age bracket have the highest rates followed by the 15 to 19 age group. From an ethnic perspective, Blacks have the highest rates, followed by Hispanics, Whites and Native American/Native Alaskans. Gonorrhea rates are higher in males age 20-24 followed by those 15-19, then those 25-29. Blacks have the highest rates followed by Hispanics, then whites. Syphilis rates (all stages included) are highest in men with male to male sex being a high risk factor that often includes dual diagnoses of Chlamydia or Gonorrhea.
These are examples of how the information that is collected from STD testing providers help in determining the level of risk for certain STDs and which populations have the highest reported frequencies of infection. Much is being done to reach people with needed information and the hope is that more people will get tested.
You may wonder if you are in an at risk group. If you have had unprotected sex with one or multiple partners and you cannot verify their monogamy, you may be at a significant risk. Instead of wondering if you have been infected with an STD, the best thing that you an do is to get tested. Testing is easy to order and it will only take a few moments of your time to visit a local lab. Confidential STD testing services are available for you to protect your privacy. After testing has been ordered, friendly lab technicians will assist you in completing the process so you can get your results quickly. They can answer any questions that you may have and get you on your way to enjoy the rest of your day. You owe it to yourself to protect your sexual health and have the peace of mind that comes with knowing.