Named after French king Louis XIV, Louisiana has made the news in the last decade for hurricanes and winning football teams, but in 2015 it topped a list that made tourism officials cringe. According to the data collected by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is the #1 state where you’re most likely to catch an STD (followed by Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama). CDC data showed STD infection rates in the state to be 4th for Chlamydia, 2nd for Gonorrhea, 3rd for Syphilis.
The data clearly shows the growth in STD cases and specific increase in young females. Some additional statistics collected by the CDC and the Louisiana Department of Health that show the importance of being tested for STDs include:
- In 2013, an estimated 1,398 adults and adolescents were diagnosed with HIV in Louisiana. Louisiana ranked 11th among the 50 states in the number of HIV diagnoses in 2013 (CDC).
- Reported rates of chlamydia among women (904.7 cases per 100,000) that were 2.7 times greater than those among men (332.2 cases per 100,000) (CDC).
- Between 2009 and 2013, reported rates of acute hepatitis A increased by 100%, hepatitis B increased by 13% and hepatitis C increased by 100% (CDC).
Facts and charts like these are increasing the awareness in your community of the importance of regular STD testing and how it can help limit the spread of these infections.
Public schools are required to instruct abstinence-based sexual education and are prohibited from instructing students about contraception and STDs, moves to bring comprehensive sex education to the entire state have failed.
While state law requires that abstinence instruction, the law does not require programs to discuss condoms and other contraception. Because they receive funds for federal abstinence-only programs, sexuality and sexual health education cannot include information about the benefits of sexually active young adults using condoms and contraception and must teach that sex outside of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects. Abstinence-only programs also must emphasize marriage as the only appropriate context for sex.
Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has been outspoken against reforms to sex education in the state. Under his leadership millions have been cut from the state budget for STD prevention and his administration has blocked the opening of any new Planned Parenthood clinics. Jindal also signed a bill in 2014 that bars educators with Planned Parenthood from delivering instruction about sexual health or family planning.
Recent research on comprehensive sexuality education has shown that young people who receive complete and accurate information about abstinence, contraception and condoms were not more likely to be sexually active or be infected by an STD, but were significantly less likely to cause a teen pregnancy. This information reinforces that regular STD testing that along with HIV testing is crucial to sexual health. Herpes testing is very important since viral infections such as Herpes can be transmitted through asymptomatic casual contact with someone that has no visible symptoms.
According to the US Census data the state population was 4,533,372 and it had increased by +3.5% since 2000. The median age is 35.8 years old. The estimated median household income was $45,727 in 2015, $10,048 lower compared to the median US household income. As of 2011, almost half (49.0%) the population under one year of age were minorities.
The city of New Orleans is currently second only to Baton Rouge for highest sexually transmitted disease rate in the country. The city has a teenage pregnancy rate much larger then most other U.S. cities, and teenage girls call it the number-one reason for dropping out of school.
STD prevention expenditures in the Louisiana Department of Health budget are at their lowest levels since at least 2011 while federal funding for the same costs are the highest they’ve been since 2012. Total prevention expenditures decreased by nearly $2.4 million between 2011 and 2014. State spending decreased from $7.1 million in 2011 to $4.6 million this year, a $2.5 million cut. Revenues collected from Medicaid billings, co-pays and private insurance spent on STD prevention in Louisiana also decreased from $1.3 million in 2011 to $621,245 this year.
STDs affect certain parts of the population disproportionately. Despite only 32 percent of the population being African American, this group is 8 times more likely to be diagnosed with chlamydia, 10 times higher for syphilis and 16 times higher for gonorrhea when compared to whites. Looking away from race and instead at the state’s economic indicators, in 2011 17.9 percent of people were living below the poverty line, with 28.8 percent of this population including children. On top of that, Louisiana was ranked as the unhealthiest state for overall health in 2011 by the United Health Foundation which showed high rates of infant mortality, obesity, and infectious diseases, as well as decreases in high school graduation rates. The resulting pockets of poverty combined with unhealthy behavior and choices are fertile ground for the growth and spread of STDs, particularly in young African Americans.
Louisiana is a multi-cultural, multi-lingual state with strong contributions from French, Spanish, Native American, Asian and African cultures. Part of enjoying this melting pot of cultures and cusine is being aware of the increase in sexually transmitted diseases. You should not worry about passing something on to a partner, or the thoughts of spending hours waiting to be seen at a free STD clinic keep you from STD testing. There is a choice that lets you make an appointment for same day STD testing, avoid the hassles and save precious time. Invest 20 minutes for your health and the health of the ones you love, then its off to enjoy the seafood at the Acme Oyster House.