For the past twenty years, the STD rate in the city and surrounding county had gone largely unnoticed until recently when it became too high to ignore any longer.
In 2011 the Chlamydia rate rose to 470 per 100,000 residents and this was enough for city officials to sit up and take notice. They also realized that Gonorrhea rates were rising in young adults, and that Syphilis and HIV diagnoses were increasing in frequency.
While some of the high STD rates are due to a large number of college students living in the city, it doesn’t explain why older residents are testing positive for primary and secondary Syphilis more often. The sudden increase in Syphilis diagnoses is particularly alarming to health officials since many of them were under the impressions that this STD was well under control.
The statistics released by the CDC and Kenosha Health Department also show that Caucasians and African Americans are among those with the highest risk. This is especially true for those ages 20 to 24 who accounted for 42.9 percent of all Chlamydia cases reported in 2014.
Gonorrhea is also more common in women, which is different from the nation average where this STD tends to be more prevalent in young men. In 2013 there were 128 cases of HIV reported which gives the county a prevalence rate of 94 percent. If this isn’t enough to convince residents of the importance of regular STD testing county health officials are hopeful that these other statistics will.
- In the first 6 months of 2016 the number of HIV cases is already being reported at 140, compared to the 128 reported in 2013.
- Females accounted for 73 percent of the Chlamydia diagnoses in 2014.
- The rate for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis in 2014 was reported at 587 per 100,000 residents compared to 550 in 2011.
The state does not require its public school systems to include anything other than medically accurate information on HIV/AIDS, and abstinence is also taught as the best method for preventing pregnancies and the spread of STDs. Some school districts do include information on the use of contraceptive but it is extremely limited.
Even though studies have shown that cities that have comprehensive sex education programs in place in the schools tend to have lower STD rates, officials in Kenosha are still reluctant to switch from their abstinence based classes. Some of this is due to a reluctance to discuss this sensitive subject, along with a belief that conversations about sex are best left up to the parents’ discretion. This has resulted in many students leaving high school still not understanding the risks and dangers associated with being sexually active.
Many teens and young adults also do not realize that STDs can be spread through other methods, and that regular testing is often the only way to detect these diseases. Regular Herpes testing in Kenosha could go a long way towards preventing the spread of the virus in area high schools. Regular HIV testing in Kenosha will help lower the city’s high rate of infection, along with preventing it from spreading to other residents.
Thanks to the presence of the universities the city of Kenosha has a relatively diverse population when classes are in session. During the summer breaks the population does decrease, but this does not mean that the number of STDs reported goes down as well.
The colleges do help to account for the substantial number of young adults that test positive for STDs, and much of this is due to them engaging in risky behaviors while they are away from home. A lack of comprehensive sexual education classes in the public high schools helps to ensure that college students do not understand the risk they are putting themselves in, and many have never been told that they need to be tested for STIs on a regular basis.
Adding to the problem are the strong conservative beliefs shared by many of the city’s residents. The majority still believe that abstinence is the best way to prevent the spread of STIs, even though research has shown that this is not the case. Many of the commonly transmitted viruses can be spread without engaging in sexual activity, but many local officials still insist that this is not a discussion that teens need to be having.
Without the information they need to protect themselves, which includes regular STD testing city officials can continue to expect the disease rate to continue to rise.
As the number of residents that test positive for a STD continues to rise it becomes more important than ever for you to take care of your sexual health. Not only does this include using protection every time you have sex, but also making sure that you are tested regularly for all transmittable diseases. Even though there are STI clinics in the city for residents to take advantage of, many prefer to avoid the long lines and take a chance that their sexual health is okay. Now you can avoid the long wait simply by making one phone call to schedule confidential STD testing. It will only take a few minutes at a local lab and you can feel good knowing that you are healthy and free from any STDs.