Unfortunately, syphilis, in particular, is on the rise in Cobb county. The current rates are 11 per 100,000 people. Previous years saw a decline in the incidences of this infection but higher rates are beginning to escalate. Chlamydia continues to grow among the city’s young people age 14-24. From 2000-2006 testing for STD’s was down compared to previous years, however, the increase in the number of local clinics offering STD testing has since improved those numbers.
HIV among African American males age 20-24 continues to grow at a disproportionate rate. Health officials speculate that the increase in the number of young African American men infected with HIV has grown as a result of increased intravenous drug use and the growing number of African-American men practicing risky behaviors.
Many of the effective resources that have been used to educate, test, and help people understand the dangers of HIV, come from Kennesaw State University’s Georgia Statewide Resource Inventory. Although HIV is still a growing concern for residents of the city, due to the large number of young black males afflicted with the disease, chlamydia, and gonorrhea are also prevalent infections that Cobb county continues to face.
- Early Latent Syphilis rate 5.3 per 100,000 people.
- Gonorrhea rates 101.2 per 100,000 people.
- Primary and Secondary Syphilis rates 7.9 per 100,000 people.
Area schools have been required to teach sex education as well as STD prevention since 1989. The district school board decides what topics specifically are taught to students in local schools. The school board also creates courses that are meant to be comprehensive in nature and include peer pressure, early parenthood, self-esteem, abstinence, and pregnancy and STD prevention. They also determine which classes are appropriate for students based upon age.
Further efforts have been made to educate the youth in Cobb county through federal and state funding to promote abstinence. Friends of Cobb County Commission on Children and Youth received $793,711 in funding to create programs that encouraged both education and abstinence.
Kennesaw State University continues to take a proactive approach to educating students about the dangers of unprotected sex, HIV, and the rising number of infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea. The university runs the Center for Health Promotion and Wellness that offers education through brochures and handouts in addition to providing free male and female condoms, dental dams, and lubricant. They also provide counseling, student health services, and STD testing.
Additionally, there are STD testing centers all over town that offer STD, HIV, and herpes testing. Knowing your status is extremely important when it comes to both prevention and slowing the spread of STD’s. The abundance of testing facilities makes it convenient to periodically get tested and to keep up with current trends and sexual health education.
Unfortunately, the highest number of STD’s in the city are among the young and the poor and often those two characteristics seem to coincide with each other. Poverty influences many things regardless of where you live. This is why the city’s poor are among the highest of those afflicted with STD’s. Frankly, socioeconomic disparities determine things like access to quality healthcare and access to testing centers. It also affects access to information and education on STD trends and how to properly protect yourself. Moreover, if your environment is filled with other similarly uneducated individuals that are practicing unprotected sex as well as risky behaviors the numbers of those infected by STD’s will continue to multiply.
Furthermore, many young people in low-income areas don’t get tested. This means that numerous people walk around daily not knowing their status but still actively engaging in sexual intercourse. This leads to many people spreading STD’s because they don’t know they’re infected. This makes the spread of STD’s a silent epidemic because of the number of infected individuals unaware of their status.
The answer is clearly education and protection. When you make getting tested a natural practice that you commit to doing routinely, you prevent the spread of dangerous and unhealthy diseases. Most testing centers provide education along with testing and counseling. This is a step in the right direction.
There are many variables that impact the growth rate of STD’s in Kennesaw. Many of the connections can be drawn to being young and uneducated regarding the risks of unprotected sex and the dangers of STD’s; other connections can be linked to risky behaviors and poverty.
The push to educate the young in the local school system and also at the university level is a proactive move to help diminish the growing number of STD’s. This focus on the youth is a priority because of the number of cases of STD’s that rest squarely on the shoulders of the young. This is why knowing your status is extremely important.
The city has a large number of confidential testing centers all over that make it convenient for anyone to get both educated and tested. Testing centers provide counseling, STD education, and results that help you to protect yourself and others. Know your status. Get tested, your health and the health of those around you depends on it.