In 2013, Iowa was ranked 36th among the states and territories on STD prevalence. But don’t let that low number fool you. The rate of some sexually transmitted diseases in Iowa has been on the rise in urban areas such as Blackhawk County. Cases of chlamydia have risen. Much of the STD cases are in urban areas; however, anyone who is sexually active is at risk.
Iowa has several testing sites all over the state. In urban areas, there are more testing centers to accommodate the higher populations. Counties often share testing sites in rural areas.
Sexually transmitted diseases are bacterial or viral infections spread through sexual contact. With the number of cases increasing across the country, it has never been more important to get tested regularly if you are sexually active. Many people infected with STDs never show symptoms so sometimes there’s no way to tell.
Some quick facts from the CDC:
- In 2013 42% of high school students had sexual intercourse – 62% did not use a condom
- Iowa rates 28th in Syphilis cases
- Reported rates of Chlamydia among women were 2.5 times higher than those among men
- Reported cases of Hepatitis A and B have declined.
The Iowa Board of Education only recommends STD and HIV instruction. Any other sex education is up to the individual school district. With school budget cuts, any advanced type of sex education may or may not make it to the curriculum especially within struggling school systems. This often leaves a vast gap of knowledge in Iowa’s youth that leaves them susceptible to early sexual encounters and sexually transmitted diseases.
Sex education across the U.S. advocates abstinence as the only way to prevent teen pregnancy and STDs. Depending on the state, it can be a comprehensive study of sexuality or a brief overview of sex. States that have optional sex education programs often rank near the national average on stats on teen births and STD rates among teens.
Quick facts on teen pregnancies in the state:
- In 2011 the state had 25 teen pregnancies per 1,000 females age 15-19
- The teen pregnancy rate has dropped since 1991 when the teen pregnancy rate was 62
- 70% of teen pregnancies in 2011 listed ethnicity as white
- 90% of teen pregnancies in 2011 were unmarried females
- 44% of females in 2011 said they had had sex. 2% of those said they had sex before the age of 13
Some of these stats are not unique to the county. It makes it very clear that teens are sexually active at a young age.
Routine screenings are especially important if you are sexually active and a teen. If you are worried about your parents finding out, STD screenings are available for teens even without parental consent. However, in some instances, parents or guardians can be notified that services have been received because of legal or billing regulations.
This should not stop you from being tested. Many STD’s can be cured or managed with the right treatment. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are all bacterial infections which can be cured by antibiotics if they are caught early. Other infections such as herpes and genital warts are manageable with the right medications.
The only way to know if you are infected is to get tested.
The state has a very diverse population demographics. Sixty-one percent of the population lived in urban areas at the turn of the century. While Iowa has been suffering from urban-flight, the state has continued to grow. While this might seem of little concern to some, when it comes to STD it makes a huge difference.
Iowa like many states with large rural areas must focus on two very different demographics. The STD rates in the urban areas are high while the rural rates are low. Nebraska has to focus on educating the urban areas without alienating the rural areas.
But the message is clear no matter where you live. Anyone who is sexually active is at risk for sexually transmitted diseases. Your risk is increased by certain factors such as:
- Have you, or your partner had several partners?
- Have you or your partner been diagnosed with an STD?
- Do you use a condom during every sexual encounter?
- Are you a teen?
- Are you a male and have had sexual relations with another male?
- Are you female?
- Are you black or Hispanic?
While many STDs can be cured if caught early, some infections can only be managed with medications. Not every infection results in symptoms which make it more difficult to determine if you have been infected. The only sure way to know is to be tested.
History has a way of making you realize how short life really is. Go ahead and enjoy a great evening with your partner, just remember to play it safe. That means getting tested. While you may feel fine, you could be carrying an infection that could be passed on to your partner. With a phone call, you can schedule an appointment at a private clinic. There are clinics all over the state. Within 30 minutes you are on your way in plenty of time enjoy everything Iowa has to offer.