The number of sexually transmitted diseases has been rising for the past twenty years in the small community and surrounding Douglas County, and now the percentage of residents infected annually is above state averages.
With statistics released by the Colorado State Health Department and CDC showing the all sexually transmitted infections are increasing in frequency, it has never been so important for residents to get tested on a regular basis.
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea rates are up, especially among teens and young adults. Hepatitis B and C infections are also rising, along with the number of students who are infected with the Herpes virus. While the rates for these sexually transmitted diseases are up across the state, it is the increasing number of residents that test positive for HIV and Syphilis that really has local health officials concerned.
As part of the Denver metro area Highlands Ranch is facing many of the same health challenges, and this includes the rising number of HIV cases that are reported each year. Currently the area has the distinction of having the highest HIV rate in the state, and officials do not see this changing anytime soon.
Some of the statistics that highlight the growing problem the community is facing with STDs includes,
- In 2010 the rural county saw 340 cases of Chlamydia, compared to 509 reported in 2014.
- The majority of Chlamydia incidents occurred in young women, while 67 percent of the Gonorrhea cases in 2014 were reported in men.
- There were 9 new cases of HIV reported in 2014, with all occurring in men.
In 2009 the state began passing out free birth control to women that could not afford to purchase it on their own. By 2013 the number of teen pregnancies had significantly dropped below national averages. With the success of this first “experiment” state lawmakers are now considering updating the information in the sex education programs used in the public schools.
Currently the city follows the guidelines in the state mandated abstinence based material, but several lawmakers are hoping that this will soon change. If handing out birth control can lower teen pregnancy rates, officials are hopeful that educating students on how they can best protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases will help to lower the infection rate.
Some of the information officials want to add includes the importance of always using protection during sexual activity. How STDs are spread will also be discussed, along with the importance of making regular testing part of students’ health care routine. Citing statistics gathered in other cities where comprehensive sex education programs have already been implemented, local officials are hopeful that others will see these changes as a positive step towards ensuring everyone’s good health.
Officials are also hopeful that with more information readily available students will understand how important regular Herpes testing in Highlands Ranch is, especially since the virus is prevalent in area high schools. Regular HIV testing in Highlands Ranch is crucial for everyone’s health, and it is still the only way to detect this potentially deadly disease.
One of the main reasons STD rates have risen so high in this rural county is its close proximity to the state capital. While the rates for Highlands Ranch are separate from those of Denver, many residents do work and play in the larger city.
This often puts them at risk for contracting a STD, even if they are not sexually active. It is also not uncommon for residents to spend entertaining evenings in the city, and unknowingly bring a sexually transmitted disease back home with them. Since the majority of residents still do not understand how important it is to be tested regularly, it is easy for these diseases to spread undetected throughout the community.
Its rural location causes the county to often be overlooked by health officials, and its smaller population often means less funding. When these factors are combined it results in fewer STI clinics, along with the monetary help many residents need to be able to afford regular testing.
The lack of comprehensive sex education programs is also contributing to the high STD rate, especially since many residents do not even realize that their health may be at risk. With plans being made to update these programs, local officials are hopeful that this will soon change. Once the information is readily available it will be easier for residents to understand why regular STI testing needs to be a part of their lives.
With STD rates rising in this planned community, it has never been so important for residents to get tested on a regular basis. If you don’t want to spend all day waiting in a long line at the local clinic there is a faster and easier way to take care of your sexual health. With one phone call you can schedule confidential STD testing and only spend a few minutes at the local lab. This way you still have plenty of time left to enjoy your day, even after you take care of your sexual health.