For the last twenty years STD rates have been rising across the city and it has now become impossible for health officials to ignore. Rates for all sexually transmitted diseases are climbing, and this is putting everyone’s health at risk. In 2014 there were over 1,200 new cases of Chlamydia reported with the majority occurring in the 15 to 24 age bracket.
It is not just Chlamydia incidents that are increasing, but Gonorrhea, HIV and infectious Syphilis rates are up as well. The statistics recently released by the CDC and Galveston County Health Department also show that Hispanics and African Americans are almost twice as likely to be infected as other demographics. Men ages 18 to 24 are at a higher risk for contracting Gonorrhea, Syphilis and HIV, while Chlamydia incidents are more common in women.
The statistics also show that older men are also testing positive for STDs more often, especially for HIV/AIDS and Syphilis. This is particularly alarming for local health officials since ten years ago the incident rates for these sexually transmitted diseases was declining. Some local health officials point out that while STD rates are rising, they are not the highest in the state. Unfortunately this may not stay true if the number of new cases reported each year continue to climb at the same pace. The rising STD rate also highlights the need for regular testing regardless of past sexual activity.
Some of the statistics that residents need to be aware of include,
- In 2008 the Chlamydia incident rate for the county was reported at 349.9 percent, compared to 445.0 in 2015.
- Galveston County reported a Gonorrhea rate of 79.9 in 2014, compared to 104.9 in 2015.
- 2014 saw 59 new cases of infectious Syphilis which rose to 61 in 2015.
Even though Texas public school districts do offer sex education programs in the classroom it is still not enough to slow the growing number of STDs reported by teens each year. Some local leaders point out that this might be due to the fact that current sex education programs only teach students the benefits of abstinence, and some go as far as to claim it really is the only option teens should ever consider. With STD and teen pregnancy rates climbing, it is becoming obvious that abstinence based classes are not enough to keep students safe.
While abstaining from sexual activity will prevent unplanned pregnancies, it does not stop the spread of all STDs. Some of the sexually transmitted viruses can be contracted through other methods, and simply practicing abstinence is not always enough to prevent students from contracting a venereal disease.
Since recent statistics show that teens are engaging in sexual activity, they need medically accurate information that pertains to them. This does include the importance and use of condoms, along with scheduling regular STD testing. Regular Herpes testing in League City can help slow and eventually stop the spread of the virus throughout area high schools. Regular HIV testing is just as important and as long as this information is not included in the curriculum, students and residents will continue to be at risk.
There are several demographical factors that are causing the number of STDs reported in the metro city each year to rise and the main one is a lack of available information.
It is not uncommon for students to graduate from high school without understanding the dangers associated with being sexually active or the responsibilities that also come with it. This includes always using protection, along with being tested regularly for all STDs.
The city’s conservative beliefs regarding sex is also contributing to the problem. Many leaders simply do not want to admit that there is a STD epidemic or that teens and young adults are engaging in sexual activity before marriage. Not only is this preventing the necessary changes to the sex education programs, it is also making it difficult for teens to find someone to talk to if they think that there might be a problem with their sexual health.
The state and city has recently suffered budget cuts to its health care programs. This, combined with recent changes in the law have forced many community health centers to close their doors or only have limited hours of operation. The budget cuts have also made it difficult for lower income residents to afford regular STD testing since it is no longer covered under Medicare.
As long as these and other problems exists, residents of League City can expect to continue to see their STD rates increase.
Before heading over to the Kemah Boardwalk or into the Woodlands for a concert, it is important to take a few minutes to think about your sexual health since the number of STDs reported each year is rising. It is understandable if you don’t want to stand in line at a community STI clinic, and now you don’t have to. You can schedule confidential STD testing with one simple phone call and only spend a few minutes at a conveniently located lab. This way you can take care of your sexual health and still have plenty of time for fishing on the island.