The CDC and Fulton County Health Department released statistics that show the STD rates for the suburban city and Atlanta metro area are rising, and have been for the past twenty years. For a city that wants to be known for its scenic parks, vibrant downtown and pleasant neighborhoods, these statistics are threatening its idyllic image.
In 2016 the statistics showed that STDs were being reported at record rates in the metro area. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea incidents are increasing, but it is the Syphilis rate that is garnering the most attention. Currently the county is ranked among the worst in the state, and health officials do not expect to improve anytime soon. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea rates are above national averages, and the same is true for the city’s Syphilis rate. As of 2016, the majority of Syphilis cases are reported in Fulton county and this includes the metro area.
Teens and young adults are among those with the greatest risk for contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Women account for the majority of Chlamydia incidents reported each year, while men are twice as likely to test positive for Gonorrhea. Men also have a greater chance of contracting Syphilis and HIV/AIDS, especially guys over the age of 25. It is this increase in the number of older residents that are testing positive for a STD that has some local officials urging people to take responsibility for their sexual health.
Some of the other statistics that highlight the growing importance of regular testing include,
- In 2015 the Chlamydia rate for the county was reported at 723.3 per 100,000, compared to the state’s 534 percent.
- The primary and secondary Syphilis rate was 41.5 per 100,000 in 2015, which is well above state and national averages.
- Teens and young adults ages 15 to 24 account for the majority of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea incidents reported in the last 5 years.
With its rising STD and teen pregnancy rates it is surprising to learn that state law makers aren’t considering changing the current sex education policy. Currently counties are allowed to decide what type of information students receive, and unfortunately most are choosing to use material that is abstinence based.
While encouraging abstinence can produce positive results, it can also leave students unprepared to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases.
One of the most commonly used curriculums in sex education is “Choosing the Best”. Instead of teaching students that condoms can be an effective way to prevent STDs and unplanned pregnancies, teens are told about the risks prophylactics can present. They do not learn how to properly use one, and most students graduate still not understanding the risks and responsibilities that come with being sexually active.
With regular Herpes testing in Johns Creek area high schools could start to see a decrease in the infection rates, which would be good news considering how easy this virus can be spread. Regular HIV testing in Johns Creek is also important for your continued good health, especially now that the county has the fourth highest infection rate in the state. The simple procedure only takes a few minutes, and could potentially save your life.
When health officials are trying to find the reason for the area’s high STD rates they quickly discover that there are several contributing factors. It’s location as part of the Atlanta metro area does affect its STD rates, along with the steady stream of new residents.
Its small downtown business district caters more to shops and restaurants, leaving little room for any neighborhood community health centers. The area has recently cut funding for some STI clinics, and this has further reduced the number of facilities located in the city. If residents can’t find a convenient place to get tested they are less likely to take care of their sexual health.
Adding to the problem is the fact that STD testing is no longer covered under Medicaid. This means that many residents simply cannot afford to take care of their sexual health.
The main contributing factor to the rising STD rates is the simple lack of comprehensive sex education. Students are often taught that condoms are ineffective, and many teens graduate from high school without knowing how to properly use one. This alone is one of the main reasons teens and young adults account for over half of all Chlamydia and Gonorrhea incidents reported in the county. Until teens know how to protect themselves from STDs, older residents will continue to find their sexual health at risk.
Before you head out to explore this vibrant city it is important to take a few minutes to think about your sexual health. Even though the beautiful neighborhoods and scenic parks make it difficult to image that STDs could be a problem, the fact remains that the infection rates are rising. It is understandable if you don’t want to spend the day waiting in line, and now you don’t have to. With just one simple phone call you can schedule confidential STD testing, and only spend a few minutes at a local lab. This way you even have time to catch a game at Ocee Park.