According to the Polk County and Lakeland city health departments, the number of sexually transmitted diseases reported annually is rising. Recent statistics also show that this trend has been occurring for the past twenty years. It is not only Chlamydia and Gonorrhea rates that are rising, but those for other sexually transmittable diseases as well.
As of 2015 the number of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Infectious Syphilis cases reported in the county surpassed state averages.
While health department officials expected to see high Chlamydia rates in teens and young women, they were not prepared for the number of men that test positive for Gonorrhea. Over the last ten years the percent of males ages 15 to 24 that contract Gonorrhea has more than doubled. Older men are also testing positive for HIV/AIDS and Syphilis with alarming frequency.
Teens and young adults continue to be among those with the highest risk for contracting a sexually transmitted disease, but statistics indicate that this is changing. Men over the age of 25 are seeing an increase in their risk for contracting STDs, especially infectious Syphilis and HIV/AIDS. This is particularly worrisome for health officials that previously thought that these two STDs were under control.
Even though the rates of infection for sexually transmitted diseases are up across the county, there is still some good news. Older women are testing positive less often for all STDs, which indicates awareness and education are helping. Some of the statistics that show there is still a problem with STDs in the community include,
- In 2015, the STD rates for Polk county was 10 percent higher than national averages.
- The STD rate for residents ages 15 to 24 increased 62 percent in the two year period from 2014 to 2016.
- The county and city reported an HIV rate of 334.1 per 100,000 residents in 2015.
Even though studies are showing states that require their public schools to offer comprehensive sex education classes are seeing a decrease in STD rates, Florida still actively promotes abstinence and the benefits of “monogamous heterosexual marriage”. Referred to as “abstinence plus”, critics are citing this as one of the main contributing factors to the rising STD rate in teens.
Proponents of the current sex education policy point out that abstinence is the best way to prevent unplanned pregnancies, along with the fact that most teens aren’t ready to deal with the responsibilities that come with being sexually active. While abstinence is the best way to prevent pregnancies, it does not prevent the spread of all sexually transmitted diseases. Some can be easily passed through casual contact.
As long as sex education is limited in city schools, the STD rate in teens will continue to rise.
Regular Herpes testing in Lakeland is the best way to prevent the contagious virus from spreading through local high schools. Regular HIV testing in Lakeland is important for everyone’s continued good health, and the simple procedure is the only way to positively detect the disease.
There are several factors affecting the STD rates in this bedroom community. It’s close proximity to Tampa is one contributing factor, especially among younger adults that frequently spend time in the city. It’s not hard to forget how easy it is to spread and contract STDs, when you are enjoying yourself at one of the city’s “happening” clubs.
An increase in illicit drug use among older adults is thought to be partially responsible for the sudden and dramatic rise in new HIV and Syphilis infections. Adults over the age of 50 are also staying sexually active longer, and this is also increasing their risk for contracting an STD.
The small community also has a shortage of STI clinics, and this is making it difficult for residents to find a convenient place to be tested. Adding to the problem are the recent budget cuts to health care. Many community health centers have been forced to close, and regular STD testing is no longer covered under governmental insurance.
A lack of comprehensive sex education is the biggest contributing factor to the skyrocketing STD rates. If teens and even adults don’t know how to protect themselves the city can expect to see the number of new infections reported each year continue to rise.
There is no denying that the best way to protect yourself from the spread of STDs is to be tested regularly. The number of new sexually transmitted infections reported annually is rising, and this means that your health could be at risk. We understand that you don’t want to spend the entire day waiting in long lines at the neighborhood clinic, and now there is a faster and easier way to take care of your sexual health. With one simple phone call you can schedule confidential STD testing, and only spend a few minutes at a local lab. This way you still have plenty of time to explore this family friendly city.