Statistics recently released by the CDC and Westchester County Health Department show that some STD rates are rising at an alarming rate. The data also ranks the affluent area among the top 5 counties for its high number of sexually transmitted diseases reported each year. What is most surprising to some local officials is the fact that the STD rates have been steadily rising for the past twenty years, and this includes all types of infectious Syphilis and HIV.
Chlamydia rates are not only rising in women, but also in men. This is also surprising to health officials since the nationwide these percentages are decreasing in males. Gonorrhea infections are also up in men, along with the number of new cases of HIV and Syphilis reported in males annually. Women ages 20 to 24 are at an increased risk for contracting Chlamydia, while the rates are dropping slightly for females 15 to 19 years old.
Older men are also at an increased risk for contracting a sexually transmitted disease, especially Syphilis and HIV. Males ages 20 to 24 are testing positive more often for Gonorrhea, while Chlamydia is affecting more men in their teens. The release of these statistics only shows that residents are not taking their sexual health seriously.
Some of the other statistics that highlight the growing problem in the area and the importance of regular STD testing include,
- In 2015 the Gonorrhea rate for the county was 65.2 per 100,000 residents which place it as one of the highest in the state.
- From 2004 to 2013 the number of Chlamydia infections reported in men more than doubled.
- Starting in 2004 the Syphilis rate for the county has been twice that of state averages.
Even though STD rates are rising the state still does not require its public school districts to provide sex education classes for its students. While health education is required, and this includes information on HIV/AIDS, the majority of students graduate from high school without being taught the dangers and responsibilities that can with being sexually active.
Since there are not any mandates in place that require public school districts to provide comprehensive and medically accurate information on STDs many students are not aware that sexually transmitted diseases can be spread through a variety of methods. Abstinence based classes are commonly offered and often contain misinformation that could have an adverse effect on a student’s sexual health.
Many schools do not cover the importance of always using protection if students choose to be sexually active, even though simply wearing a condom can prevent unplanned pregnancies and significantly reduce the risk for contracting a STD. Some public school districts do not even provide abstinence based classes, and while refraining from sex will not prevent the spread of STDs, a little information is better than simply ignoring the fact that the number of venereal diseases reported each year is rising.
This also means that many residents do not understand how important regular HIV testing in Greenburgh is or that it is the only way to positively detect this infectious disease. The same is true regarding regular Herpes testing in Greenburgh, and this simple procedure could be the first step in stopping the spread of the virus through area high schools.
There are several reasons why this affluent town is seeing a rise in its STD rates. The fact that many residents simply believe that a sexually transmitted disease could never happen to them is causing a large majority of the population to view regular STD testing as unnecessary. The city also only has a few community health centers, and most residents do not want to run the risk of being seen by their friends and family standing in line at a STI clinic.
A recent budget cut to the state’s health care system is making it difficult for some lower income residents to afford the testing fees, now that the procedure is no longer covered under Medicaid. The recent shortage in funding has also limited the number of hours the remaining clinics can afford to stay open, and this has resulted in long lines and crowded waiting rooms.
The main contributing factor to the city’s high STD rates is the lack of information available for teens and adults. While the area’s public schools do cover the dangers of HIV/AIDS, there are limited discussions regarding the other sexually transmitted diseases. Many students graduate from high school and do not understanding how STDs are spread, nor do they realize how important getting tested regular is for their continued good health. Until these and other issues are resolved the small city can expect to see its STD rates continue to rise.
Before your take a tour of Lyndhurst or drive across the famous Tappan Zee, it is important to take a few minutes to think about your sexual health. The number of STDs reported each year in the city is rising, and this means that regular testing should be a part of your health care routine. It is understandable if you don’t want to wait in the long lines at the clinics, and now you can easily schedule confidential STD testing with one simple phone call. This way you only have to spend a few minutes at a local lab, which means you’ll still have plenty of time to hit a few balls at the Scarsdale Golf Club.