Statistics recently received by the CDC and Montgomery County Health Department show that STDs are on the rise, and have been for the past twenty years. While currently it is one of the healthiest counties in the state the rising STD rates are threating its high ranking.
Since 2009 the number of Chlamydia incidents in the census designated city and county have risen significantly. The infection rate in 2009 was reported at 198.2 and by 2014 it had risen to 266.1 per 100,000 residents. The majority of cases were reported in young women, specifically those ages 18 to 24. It is not only Chlamydia incidents that are on the rise, but Gonorrhea and Herpes rates are increasing as well.
While the Herpes virus is prevalent mainly in the city’s high schools, Gonorrhea is affecting teens and adults. The rates for women are staying steady, but the same is not true for men. Over the last ten years the number of men that have tested positive for Gonorrhea has increased dramatically, and health officials are blaming this spike on several factors that include a lack of regular STD testing.
The statistics also show that Syphilis rates are rising, though at a slower rate than the rest of the state. HIV/AIDS incidents are increasing, and this has health officials worried. In 1986 there were less than 100 residents living with HIV and by 2010 the number was reported at over 3,000. This statistic alone should be more than enough to convince residents of the importance of regular STD testing. Some of the other statistics that highlight the city’s growing problem with STDs include,
- The Chlamydia rate in 2014 was reported at 266.1 with the majority of incidents occurring in women under the age of 24.
- The HIV rate in 2014 was 416.8 per 100,000 residents, compared to 632.9 reported by the state.
- In 2014 the Gonorrhea rate was 42.8, with over 40 percent of the cases reported in men 18 to 24 years of age.
Even though state law does require sex education local public school districts are allowed to choose their own curriculum. While it must include scientifically proven information on HIV and STDs, schools are allowed to decide how it is presented. This means that most public school systems use federally funded abstinence based material.
While students do learn how STDs are spread and the use of contraceptives is covered, teens are still taught that abstinence is the best and only way for them to prevent a sexually transmitted disease. While this is true regarding unplanned pregnancies, it does little to stop the further spread of STDs. The abstinence based classes can also leave students that are sexually active feeling ashamed and embarrassed, and this can make it difficult for them to admit that they might have a problem. If teens and young adults don’t feel like they have anyone to talk to about their sexual activity, they are less likely to get tested.
Regular Herpes testing in Germantown is important, especially if educators want to stop the spread of the virus through area high schools. The same is also true regarding regular HIV testing in Germantown is also crucial, especially since the infection rate is rapidly rising.
The lack of comprehensive sex education in the public schools is one of the main contributing factors to the area’s rising STD rates, but it is not the only reason residents are testing positive for a sexually transmitted disease more often.
Even though the county is ranked as one of the healthiest in the state, thanks to its numerous hospitals and high percentage of residents with insurance, most are still not getting tested for all of the STDs on a regular basis. There are several reasons why residents aren’t getting tested. The lack of information has many presuming that a STD could never happen to them, especially if they are in a long term monogamous relationship. Since STDs can be spread through a variety of methods this is not enough to protect residents’ sexual health.
The shame and embarrassment many people feel when they are getting tested is also contributing to the problem. Most residents do not want to be seen standing in line at a community STI clinic, even if they are there just as a precautionary measure. Some lower income residents are also finding it difficult to afford regular STD testing now that the fees are no longer covered under Medicaid.
Until these and other problems are resolved this census designated city can expect to see its STD rates continue to rise over the next several years.
Before you head down to The BlackRock Center for the Arts to catch a concert or raise a mug at Oktoberfest it is important to take a few minutes to think about your sexual health. STD rates are rising in the city and this means that it is important for everyone to get tested. It is understandable if you don’t want to spend the day waiting in a long line and now you don’t have to. With one simple phone call you can easily schedule confidential STD testing and only spend a few minutes at a local lab. This way you can take care of your sexual health, and still have plenty of time to explore the historic area.