According to a 2013 CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) report, the state ranked in the top ten for the highest STD rates in the country: fourth for syphilis, eighth for Chlamydia, and seventh for Gonorrhea. Twenty years prior, these rates were significantly lower. While its rates of Chlamydia and other STIs did have a short lapse from 2011-2013, they are again on the rise, primarily due to lack of funding for safe sex programs.
Some additional statistics are:
- In 2013, an estimated 3,011 adults and juveniles in the state were diagnosed with HIV
- In 2009 and 2013 the rate of Syphilis in the state were 9.7 out 100,000 and 10.3 out of 100,000, respectively. By 2015, the state had earned first place in the reported rates of P & S Syphilis among all 50 states.
- In 2014, the CDC funded an estimated $22,328,853 to the Georgia State Health Department and a local health department for HIV/AIDS prevention and control
As is the case with many states, Georgia’s youth seem to be the major contributors to its high sexually transmitted disease rates. In 2009-2013, those aged 15-24 had the highest rates of chlamydia, while those aged 25 and above maintained relatively low levels. It is no wonder, then, that the state’s public health officials are working to instill the important of safe sex and regular testing into the state’s youth, but with limited funding for sex education programs, this is a difficult task.
While the state’s public health officials have taken steps toward lowering the rates of HIV and other STDs, experts are concerned that the state’s sex education courses are not properly funded and neglect teaching crucial topics. According to a report by the CDC, more than two-thirds of all Georgia schools failed to teach all of the recommended sexual education topics, with educating about condom usage being particularly low.
Georgia law requires that sexual programs, including those for HIV, emphasize abstinence until marriage, but does not require that students learn comprehensive knowledge and skills for avoiding contraction of sexually transmitted diseases. Statistics show that although abstinence is one of the healthier options, abstinence-only curricula prove inefficient, and may actually cause sexually active adolescents to avoid the use of contraceptives. Therefore, despite a consistent need for sexual education, students across the state receive anything but.
As a result, the majority of the populace has taken a lax approach to practicing safe sex and being tested for STDs. This has proven extremely detrimental to the state’s overall sexual health, with its youth being the major victims. With the state’s HIV and herpes rates slowly rising, this comes at a time when it is even more crucial for sexually active people to get HIV testing and Herpes testing. Fortunately, parents and major professional health organizations such as the American Public Health Association are in support of not only teaching abstinence but also teaching comprehensive sex education in schools.
There seem to be quite a few areas in the state that are especially prone to high STD rates. These include Columbus (ranked 40th nationally), the metro-Atlanta area (accounted for more than 60% of HIV cases in the state), and the health districts of Savannah, Augusta, Columbus, and Macon (accounted for nearly 20% collectively). STD clinics are progressively developing in these areas and increasing their methods of sexually transmitted infections prevention.
Also shown in STD statistics for this state was that one of its most diverse communities, gay/bisexual men, had the highest risk for contraction of HIV and other STDs. An estimated 55-61% of all new HIV/AIDS cases reported were in the category of men who have sex with men (MSM). Even though all men are at risk for developing STDs, the MSM community is at a significantly higher risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Gender also plays a major role. From years 2009-2013, the rates of chlamydia among females were significantly higher than the rates among men, whereas men had higher rates of syphilis. This is not to say that one gender is at a lower risk of contracting specific STDs than the other. The discrepancy in rates is partly accredited to embarrassment and social stereotypes.
Better Sexual Health with STI Testing
The prosperous peach state has something for everyone: beautiful scenery, popular attractions – and high rates of chlamydia, HIV, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Georgia is a beautiful, flourishing state, but a lack of education about sexual health has left it with a huge STD crisis. Fortunately, both public and private STD clinics have advanced and offer more options than ever before when it comes to testing, support, and advice.
While it has its ways of handling the challenges of educating the population about sexual health through outreach programs, sex education, and STD clinics, private citizens may benefit by doing their own research about STDs and what they can do to prevent infection. Parents should also discuss these topics with their children and instill a sense of important when it comes to protected sex.
In today’s day and age, it is more crucial than ever to receive STD testing, but the possibility of being seen and the long lines deters many citizens from doing so. To avoid these problems you can make a simple call and schedule confidential STD testing. The testing process only takes 20 minutes, which will leave you plenty time to explore Downtown Atlanta.