It has become impossible for local and state officials to ignore the rising STD rates in the small city and surrounding Jackson County any longer. Statistics released by the CDC and county health department indicate that the area continues to have the highest rate of transmittable sexual diseases in the state.
Even though the number of reported incidents has been steadily rising across the state for the past twenty years, nothing compares to the statistics for the city and county. Not only does it have the highest rate for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea infections, but also for Syphilis and HIV.
Teens and young adults continue to have the highest risk for contracting Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, especially those under the age of 22. African American and Caucasian males are particularly at risk for Gonorrhea infections. Men over the age of 24 test positive for primary and secondary Syphilis more often than those in other demographics, and this is also true regarding HIV/AIDS.
The statistics also show that Herpes infections are steadily rising among high school students, and more teens are testing positive for HPV. Without regular STD testing, health officials are worried that these rates will continue to rise.
Some of the statistics that indicate the growing STD problem in the community include,
- In 2008 there were 133 cases of infectious Syphilis reported, compared to 257 in 2015.
- There were 5,252 cases of Chlamydia reported in 2015 giving Jackson County the highest incident rate in the state.
- By June of 2016 there were already 156 new Syphilis diagnoses reported in the area.
Even though the state’s teen pregnancy and STDs are significantly higher than national averages, law makers are still opposed to including information about contraceptives and safe sexual practices in the public school systems. This is leaving teens and young adults ill-equipped to deal with the risks and responsibilities that come with being sexually active.
Currently the state does require public schools to teach students medically accurate information concerning HIV/AIDS, but unfortunately this is where their education ends. Instead of supplying students with the tools they need to protect themselves from all sexually transmitted diseases they are told the abstinence is the best course to follow. While this can prevent unplanned pregnancies, it does little to prevent the spread of all STDs.
In 2015 state lawmakers did make some changes to the current sex education programs adding information about “sexting” to the curriculum. While some residents see this as a positive step towards protecting students sexual health, it still does not prevent the spread of STDs. Adding to the problem is the fact that teens want this information made readily available to them, but under current state law it is illegal for teachers to include any mention of contraceptives in the classroom.
This means that students do not understand how important regular HIV testing is in Lee’s Summit, and this is putting everyone’s health at risk. Regular Herpes testing in Lee’s Summit is also just as important, and it is the only way to slow and stop the spread of the virus in local high schools.
There are several reasons why this small city has the dubious distinction of having one of the highest STD rates in the state. It is located in one of the most populous counties in the state, and this does affect the STD rates for Lee’s Summit. While this is a contributing factor, there are several others that are causing the number of sexually transmitted infections reported each year to climb.
Due to its relatively small size there are not a lot of STI clinics in the city, and this can make it difficult for residents to find a place to be tested. The few that are centrally located often have long lines that very few people want to spend the day waiting in. There is also the stigmata that comes with an STD infection, and it is not uncommon to find that residents are simply too embarrassed to be tested.
The main contributing factor though is the lack of education in the public school systems. It is not uncommon for students to graduate from high school not understanding the risks and responsibilities that come with being sexually active. Most are not aware of the importance of always using protection when engaging in sexual activity, and since no one discusses the importance of regular STI testing it is not uncommon for students to be positive for one of these diseases and not even realize it.
Before you head down to 3rd Street for some shopping or off to one of the city’s beautiful parks, it is important to take a few minutes and think about your sexual health. While there are community STI centers that residents can take advantage of, the long lines and embarrassment of being seen by friends and neighbors has many people putting off this important checkup. Now you can skip the long wait and possibly of running into someone you know simply by making one phone call to schedule confidential STD testing. It will only take a few minutes at a local lab, which means you still have plenty of time left to enjoy your day in this quaint city.