It has become impossible for local officials to ignore the rising STD rates, especially after viewing the statistics recently released by the CDC and Macon-Briggs County Health Department. In 2015 the historic city was ranked third in the state and 54th in the nation for its high Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis rates.
The recent statistics not only show that the number of sexually transmitted diseases is increasing each year, it also indicates that this alarming trend has been occurring over the last two decades.
While women account for the majority of Chlamydia infections, men are testing positive more often for Gonorrhea, Syphilis and HIV/AIDS. The statistics also show that men ages 22 to 40 are more than twice as likely to contract infectious Syphilis or HIV as teens and young adults. Males in the 18 to 22 age bracket are at a greater risk for testing positive for Gonorrhea, though the incident rate for this STD is also increasing in teens 15 to 18 years old.
Even though African American and Hispanic residents do test positive for a STD more often than other ethnicities, the statistics indicate that this is rapidly changing. Older Caucasian men are contracting Syphilis and HIV at a faster rate than previous years, though they are still a minority when it comes to Gonorrhea incidents. African American women also account for the majority of Chlamydia cases reported each year.
Some of the statistics released by the county and CDC that highlight the growing STD problem include,
- The small city ranked 54th in the nation for its high STD rate according to 2015 CDC statistics.
- In 2014 the county rate for HIV surpassed state and national averages.
- Statistics in 2014 showed that the county’s Gonorrhea rate was slightly higher than state and national averages.
Even though teen pregnancy and STD rates are rising the state is still reluctant to make any changes to the current sex education programs being taught in some public schools. A recent survey actually found that over two thirds of the public school districts in the state did not include all of the recommend topics in their sex education programs. This means that the majority of students are graduating without understanding all of the risks and responsibilities that come with being sexually active.
The same survey noted that a large number of teens and adults were not using condoms during intercourse. This is also being blamed for the county’s high STD rate, along with the increasing number of teen pregnancies reported by school districts each year.
Since students aren’t receiving the information they need to protect themselves from STDs, most do not even realize that their behavior could be putting them at risk. Using protection during intercourse is almost never discussed, instead teens are simply told to abstain from sexual activity until they are married. Judging by the abnormally high teen pregnancy rate this approach is simply not effective.
Teens and adults are also never told how important regular HIV testing in Macon is, even though the county has one of the highest rates in the state. The same is also true regarding regular Herpes testing in Macon, and most residents don’t understand that this simple procedure could effectively stop the spread of this contagious virus throughout local high schools.
While there are several demographical factors that are contributing to the rising STD rates in the area, the main reason is the lack of available information. Teens and adults are not using protection during intercourse, and most are not aware that simply by putting on a condom they can dramatically decrease their chances of contracting a sexually transmitted disease.
This lack of a comprehensive and medically accurate sex education program also means that most residents are not aware of how important it is to be tested for all STDs on a regular basis.
The historic city is also extremely conservative, and this is making it difficult for health officials to successfully make any changes to the current sex education programs. The strong conservative beliefs also make it hard for teens and young adults to find someone to talk to, even if they believe that they might have been infected with a sexually transmitted disease. This also causes feelings of shame and embarrassment, and no one wants to be seen by friends and family standing in line at a STI clinic, even if it is just for a regular health and wellness checkup.
Adding to the problem is the fact that many residents simply cannot afford regular STI testing, especially since the procedure is no longer covered under Medicaid. Unfortunately this also means that the city’s STD rates will continue to rise, unless solutions to these and other problems are found.
Before you take a tour of this historic city or stop in one of the clubs to listen to some of the area’s great music it is important that you take a few minutes to think about your sexual health. The number of STDs reported each year is rising, and now the city and county has one of the highest infection rates in the state. If you don’t want to wait in line at a community health center you can call and schedule confidential STD testing. The simple procedure only takes a few minutes at a local lab, which gives you plenty of time to enjoy your day in this southern city.