With the recent release of statistics by the CDC and Alameda County Health Department it has become impossible to ignore the rising STD rates. The county is currently has the 4th highest Syphilis and Gonorrhea rates in the state, and the number of new HIV cases reported each year are also climbing. The statistics also show that the rates have been steadily climbing over the past twenty years.
Teens and young adults ages 20 to 24 have the highest risk for contracting Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. Chlamydia incidents are also up in women, though the numbers of females that test positive for Gonorrhea are decreasing. Unfortunately the same is not true for men who have been testing positive for Gonorrhea with increasing frequency.
Men are not only at risk for contracting Gonorrhea, but Syphilis and HIV/AIDS as well. The statistics show that the rates for these sexually transmitted diseases are falling or staying below state averages in women, but are rapidly rising in men. Currently the county ranks 4th in the state, even though it is not as densely populated as some other areas. This only highlights the fact that regular STD testing needs to be a part of everyone’s health care routine.
Some of the other statistics that has health officials concerned and that residents should be aware of include,
- In 2008 the county ranked 5th for its high Gonorrhea rate and as of 2014 it is now 4th in the state.
- From 2002 to 2012 the HIV rate increased an alarming 68 percent officially making it an “epidemic”.
- The Gonorrhea rate for the county was 100.5 per 100,000 residents in 2015.
At the start of the 2016 school year students will now receive comprehensive and medically accurate sex education, thanks to the passage of a bill. The new state law requires all public school districts to provide age appropriate health and sex education to all students beginning in the 7th grade. With teen pregnancy rates at all-time highs and the number of STDs reported each year rising, state lawmakers are hopeful that this will be one of the first steps taken towards addressing this problem.
While some counties have already implemented the new sex education curriculum, Alameda County is not one of them. One of the problems that state lawmakers did not address was whether all public school districts could afford to change and implement the new curriculum. The financial crisis of 2008 forced the state and federal government to make cuts to education, and this has left many school districts unable to afford the new curriculum.
This means that even though students are supposed to receive the information they need to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases, it is not occurring in all public schools districts. Teens and young adults still do not realize how important regular HIV testing in Livermore is, especially now that it is listed as an “epidemic”. The same is also true regarding Herpes testing in Livermore, even though the simple procedure could stop the spread of the contagious disease.
This Tri-Valley city enjoys a diverse population and while this adds to its appeal, it is also affecting the area’s STD rates. Health officials are finding it difficult to reach all of the residents, and even though sex education is now offered in the public schools not all students are participating due to religious or cultural beliefs.
It is also taking time for the public schools to implement the new sex education curriculum, and this means that some students are still graduating without understanding the risks and responsibilities that come with being sexually active. It is not uncommon for some teens and young adults to not know how to properly use a condom, and very few understand how important it is to get tested for all of the sexually transmitted diseases on a regular basis.
Adding to the problems are the budget cuts to health care that were a result of the 2008 financial crisis. The implementation of “Obamacare” is also contributing to the city’s high STD rates. The budget cuts forced many STI clinics to close their doors, and this is making it difficult for residents to find a place to get tested. When the federal health care plan took effect it meant that Medicaid no longer covered regular STD testing. This has made it almost impossible for many lower income residents to afford the testing fees.
Until these and other issues are resolved the city and county can expect to see its STD rates continue to rise.
Before you head of to one of the regional state parks or explore Altamont Pass it is important to take a few minutes to think about your sexual health. While there are nearby STI clinics for residents to take advantage of, the long lines and crowded waiting rooms has many searching for a more convenient option. Now you can easily 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 to explore the scenic Tri-Valley area.