Located in rural Weld County this small city might not have the highest STD rate in the state, but when you take into account its lower population it is obvious that Greeley is dealing with a health crisis.
In the first quarter of 2016 the Chlamydia rate was reported at 342.4 per 100,000 residents, and 25 out of 100,000 tested positive for Gonorrhea. With a population estimated at 258,780 according to 2010 U.S. census data, health officials are realizing that the city and county are seeing an alarming trend in its STD rates.
Over the past twenty years the number of residents that test positive for a sexually transmitted infection has been rising at an alarming rate. While some of this is due to job and the resulting population growth, this does not completely account for the sudden increase in the number of STIs reported each year.
The statistics not only show that Chlamydia and Gonorrhea rates are increasing, but Syphilis and HIV infections are increasing as well. According to data released by the Colorado Health Department and CDC it is not only teens and young adults who are risk for contracting a sexually transmitted disease, but older residents are also testing positive more often as well.
Gonorrhea incidents might have decreased in women, but the number of men that test positive for the sexually transmitted infection has almost doubled in the past ten years, and the same is also true for primary and secondary Syphilis.
Some of the other statistics that show how important it is for residents to be tested for STDs on a regular basis include,
- Over half of the primary and secondary cases of Syphilis were reported in Caucasian men in 2011.
- The county saw its Chlamydia rate rise to 342.4 during the first four months of 2016.
- African Americans are among those with the highest risk for infection.
In answer to the rising STD rates in Weld County and across the state, lawmakers have made sweeping changes to the sex education programs currently taught in the public schools.
The changes started in 2009 when the state began handing out birth control to young women and has recently continued into the classroom with updated information being included into the sex education classes. In just a few short years after starting the free birth control program teen pregnancy rates dropped dramatically and lawmakers are hopeful that the newly updated sex education programs will have the same effect on the area’s STD rates.
Already Gonorrhea rates in young women are dropping across all ethnicities, and newly reported cases of HIV are also decreasing in frequency. This does not mean that regular HIV testing in Greeley is no longer important, in fact the simple procedure still remains one of the best ways to prevent the spread of this disease.
Regular Herpes testing in Greeley is also important, especially since the virus is prevalent in local high schools. The test only takes a couple of minutes, and it should be a part of every student’s health care routine.
There are several reasons why the STD rates in the city and surrounding county are so high. Its rural location and smaller population often means less funding from state and federal governments for city health clinics. The lack of adequate funding has resulted in not enough STI testing centers to effectively treat all residents, especially those who cannot afford to pay.
Lower income families are not only finding it difficult to find a STI clinic, it is also difficult for them to afford regular testing. Without help from outside sources, many residents are finding that now that STD testing is no longer covered under Medicare they simply do not have the money to cover this additional expense.
Adding to the problem is the sharp increase in intravenous drug use, especially among adults. This illicit behavior is also being blamed for the rise in HIV/AIDS rates, along with those for infectious, primary and secondary Syphilis. While some lawmakers are pushing for a needle exchange program to be implemented, most agree that this would only be a temporary solution to the problem.
Until residents in the area understand that sexually transmitted diseases pose a threat to everyone and that the only way to stop the spread of these viruses is by regular testing, the STD rates will continue to increase at the same alarming rate.
With STD rates rising across the city and county, it is important that everyone takes a few minutes to consider their sexual health. You can find STD testing clinics near you in the city, but if you want to avoid the long lines there is a faster and easier way to take care of your sexual health. With one simple phone call you can schedule confidential STD testing, and only spend a few minutes at a local lab. This way you can take responsibility for your sexual health, and still have plenty of time to spend relaxing on the nearby South Platte River.