Statistics recently released by the CDC and Oregon State Health Department have made it impossible for officials to ignore the growing problem with STDs that the city is facing. Over the past 15 years the number of residents that test positive for a sexually transmitted infection has been steadily increasing, and it has now reached near record numbers.
The rates for Chlamydia have almost doubled in the fifteen year period from 2000 to 2014, and it is not only teens and young adults that are testing positive for this STD. Older adults are also contracting STDs at a higher rate, and this includes primary and secondary Syphilis infections.
The number of Syphilis cases has risen sharply in recent years, and the statistics indicate that it is not likely to decrease anytime soon since residents still aren’t getting tested on a regular basis. HIV/AIDS diagnoses are also increasing in frequency in the city, though the numbers are starting to drop throughout the rest of the state.
Women are among those with the highest risk for contracting Chlamydia, especially those ages 20 to 24. Gonorrhea rates are falling slightly, but this sexually transmitted disease is still more common in men than women. When it comes to HIV infections Caucasians find themselves with the greatest risk, followed closely by Hispanic and African American residents.
With its high number of residents in the surrounding Washington County and city contracting STDs more often it has never been so important to be tested. Some of the other statistics released by the CDC include,
- In 2013 67 percent of the HIV diagnoses in the city and state were in Caucasian men and women.
- The state currently ranks 8th in the nation for its high rate of Syphilis incidents with a large percentage of these occurring in the city.
- Chlamydia rates in Washington County have doubled in the past 15 years.
One of the best ways to prevent the spread of STDs is to include comprehensive sex education programs in the public school systems, but Hillsboro still uses outdate information that pushes abstinence until marriage.
Current issues such as online dating, “sexting” and even “hookups” are not discussed, and most programs do not include any information on the importance of always wearing protection during intercourse. Without the information students need to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases they and their families will continue to be at risk.
As of 2015 school board members are reviewing the information taught in the district’s sex education classes, but do to parental protest any changes being made to the program is slim. This means that students will continue to put themselves at risk without even knowing it.
Not only will comprehensive sex education programs help lower STD percentages, it can also help reduce the teen pregnancy rate. Contraceptives not only help to protect against STDs, it can also prevent unplanned pregnancies.
As long as the importance of regular Herpes testing in Hillsboro is not covered, students will continue to be at a high risk for infection. Regular HIV testing in Hillsboro is also important, especially considering the growing number of residents that test positive each year.
There are several reasons why the STD rate in the city and county are rising, and the lack of available information is one. Teens and even adults often do not realize that their behavior is increasing their risk for contracting a STI, especially since it is not uncommon for them to not understand how these infectious diseases are spread.
This also means that many residents do not realize how important it is to be tested on a regular basis, even if they are not sexually active.
The city’s rural location has resulted in a lack of community health centers, and recent budget cuts has made it difficult for the few that are there to stay open. Limited office hours and a lack of qualified staff are other problems that are making it hard for residents to get the health care that they need.
Teens are engaging in sexual activities at a younger age, and this is also contributing to the high number of STDs reported each year. Apps for dating and quick hookups are gaining in popularity among all age groups, and this is being partially blamed for the rising number of adults who are testing positive for Syphilis.
The rising Syphilis and HIV rates are also due to an increase in the use of illicit drugs. With users not only sharing needles, but also engaging in unprotected sex. As long as this and other risky behavior continues and residents do not see the importance in regular testing, this small city will continue to have a problem.
While exploring the trails and nearby wetlands is preferable to waiting in a long line at the community health center, it is still important to take care of your sexual health. If you have been putting off this checkup due to overcrowded waiting rooms, you now have a faster and more convenient option. With just one phone call you can schedule confidential STD testing and only spend a few minutes at a nearby lab, which still gives you plenty of time to explore all that this rural city has to offer.