Recently, the Tippecanoe County released its February, 2016 version of the Community Health Needs Assessment, and touched on the topic of sexually transmitted diseases within the county. According to the report, the number of STD cases were higher than the statewide average. For example, in 2013, the number of Chlamydia cases was 836 and the number of gonorrhea cases was 175 for the county as a whole. This translates to a rate of 464 for chlamydia and a rate of 97 for gonorrhea (with a 100,000 population), which is higher than the statewide average.
Almost universally, the number of STD cases has risen in the Tippecanoe County over the past few years. According to the Indiana Government website:
- The number of chlamydia cases in 2011 was 718. In 2015, the number has risen to 1128.
- The number of gonorrhea cases in 2011 was just below 100, a total of 98. However, in the year 2015, 237 cases were reported.
- The number of chlamydia and gonorrhea cases plateaued between the years 2012 and 2014.
- Overall, the trend has been completely positive.
Furthermore, the Center of Disease Control released an annual report in 2013 outlining the number of STD cases for each county in the state.
According to the report, the Tippecanoe County had an average of 1000 – 3000 cases of chlamydia, 300 – 600 cases of gonorrhea, and 2-10 cases of syphilis for a 100,000 person sample. Overall, the state has an average chlamydia and syphilis rate just lower than the U.S. average. However, in regards to gonorrhea, the state has an above average.
Overall, from a city, county, and statewide level it appears at the number of reported STD cases is continuing to grow each and every year. The problem certainly isn’t going away and it appears more needs to be done to raise awareness for sexual health, safe sex practices, and the public resources readily available to the community.
The rising number of STD cases within the city is something to be concerned about. However, the city has made an effort to increase awareness about this epidemic. Currently, residents and tourists can freely acquire pamphlets and booklets regarding STD’s, safe practices, and information about the resources the city has to offer. Even further, the city is offering STD tests for free in a number of locations around the city.
Interestingly, recent reports have shown that a majority of those affected are quite young. For example, according to the 2006 report of sexually translated diseases within the state of Indiana, a major contributor of cases stemmed from those between the ages of 13-19 and 20-29.
In response to this, many community members feel that more needs to be done in order to educate the younger community members. Many feel that sexual education should be taught at younger ages. Many community members have begun to speak out about this issue, in the hopes that the number of cases will be reduced. Moreover, many community members feel that raising awareness for public resources such as STI testing clinics and free educational tools should be pushed.
Since the city is considered part college-town, more education could be pushed through colleges to help further educate those unaware of the risks of STDs.
Additionally, public officials have stepped up, offering campaign ideas to address the issue head on. Between offering an awareness campaign towards the public, speaking to students at younger ages, and addressing this alarming issue to parents, many public officials hope this will help fight the rise of STD cases reported each year.
The city has a unique community rich in culture, ethnicities, and heritages. Not only does the community pride itself on this, it is something the city defines itself by. Furthermore, the city is populated with people ranging greatly in age.
According to the 2006 STD report within Indiana, the most at-risk individual for chlamydia can best be described as a 15-29 year old female African American. Moreover, those most at-risk for gonorrhea are non-Hispanic African American female between the ages of 20-29. Generally speaking, African Americans are at a more severe risk of contracting an STD than whites.
In an attempt to reduce the number of chlamydia and gonorrhea cases seen within the city many feel that more should be done for those that are most at-risk. For example, more education and awareness can be provided to locations to this target audience. Doing so may help promote the understanding of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, promote safe sex practices, and increase awareness for the number of resources that are readily available in the community.
Just like dozens of other cities around the continental U.S. this community should also be concerned about the rising number of reported STD cases. However, even though public officials and community leaders are doing their best to raise awareness for the rising number of STD incidences, community members need to be proactive and regularly touch base with their sexual health by frequently taking an STD test. Doing so will also keep you healthy and aware.
The city offers a number of educational resources such as websites, brochures, and even pamphlets for those interested. Additionally, there are several STI facilities in the area. If you don’t want to wait in the long lines you can call to schedule confidential STD testing at your convenience. It only takes a few minutes at a local lab and then you can get back to enjoying the rest of your day.