The local health department is diligent in reporting vital health statistics to the Center for Disease Control. The CDC maintains a national database for analyzing the overall health of the nation in detail. They have no interest in knowing specifically who has tested positive for an STD, but rather, the characteristics of the populations who do. This is so they can help to pinpoint who has the greatest risks based upon current trends. The following table gives the current figures for the numbers of persons who have tested positive for specific STDs per 100,000 in population.
Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis B and C, HIV and Syphilis numbers are a cause for concern. The rates are rising and health department officials are working to develop strategies to bring the numbers down. The city has local STD clinics available for private testing services. Free STD centers offer testing at reduced or no charge for clients who meet the income guidelines. The ordering process is easy and follow up with a local lab takes only between fifteen to twenty minutes. After this, results are on their way and it really is just as easy as it sounds.
- Chlamydia- 394.6
- Gonorrhea- 59
- Syphilis (primary and secondary)- 6.9
The state of Oregon is ranked as being tenth in the nation for Syphilis rates. This is an alarming statistic and this type of news is never good. It does, however, have lower rates than most for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. The rates above show the numbers based on those who have had STD testing. Health department officials believe that there are many people in the region who are at risk, but have yet to complete testing. If everyone in Gresham who is at risk would get tested, the numbers would most likely increase dramatically.
There are dense pockets of people in the Gresham area who live in poverty.
Low income has been identified as a factor that may be preventing the people who need testing most from getting it. There are a few reasons for this. People with low income levels may not have the financial means of getting the quality medical care that is needed. Even though there are free testing centers available, they may not be aware of their existence. A lack of education about sexual health is another factor. People who drop out of school may have missed out of sexual health ed which is a part of the public school curriculum. They may not know the risk that they are at or be aware of the symptoms of STD infection.
The rates for teenage STD infection are on the rise. Those who know they have been exposed are less likely to disclose the information to an adult for fear of punishment or because of embarrassment. These are the things which contribute to the issue of low testing rates.
The degree of risk is figured by assessing the characteristics of the populations with the highest rates in each STD category. Women have twice the incidences of Chlamydia as men. Men have higher rates of Gonorrhea and Syphilis infections. Men who engage in male to male sex have a higher frequency of not only testing positive for HIV infection, but also other types of STD including Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis. Blacks have the highest rates nationally for all STD types, followed by Hispanics, then Native Alaskans/American Indians, then Whites and Asian. People who engage in sex with multiple partners increase their odds. The single risk factor which places any person of any ethnicity, sex, gender, age or socio-economic status is having unprotected sex. Anyone can get an STD. It is not limited to a specific group of persons.
The spread of STDs will not subside until people become educated about the dangers of unsafe sex. When more people begin using safe sex practices and get regular testing as needed, the rates will come down. Until this time, health department officials are encouraging the implementation of strategies that include community education programs promoting facts about the dangers of unprotected sex, the distribution of literature, public service announcements and free counseling through a variety of clinics and other venues. Mandatory sexual health classes are provided in public schools just prior to entry to middle school. In addition, STD testing centers and free clinics have been established to meet the special needs of the residents of this area with confidential testing services. Some of them offer income sensitive or free services for those who meet the criteria.
Anyone who believes that they may have been exposed to an STD should get tested. The same is true if there are any unusual symptoms present. It is important to understand that while some types of STD result in quickly appearing symptoms, not all of them do. If you’ve had unprotected sex and your partner is not monogamous then you are at some risk. There is one way to get the question answered and enjoy peace of mind and that is to get tested. Ordering the testing is easy and a quick visit to a local testing lab is all that is required. The testing is completely private and confidential. The lab techs can answer any questions or concerns that you have during your visit. You owe it to yourself to protect your sexual health and enjoy the least amount of stress and anxiety that is possible.