This city is well below the state of Florida average of STD infection rates. While a 2011 CDC study ranked nearby by Orlando 11th in the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses, Melbourne was not on the list at all. But while the city is lower in new HIV diagnoses statewide, nationally though it is still relatively high in new diagnoses and total HIV/AIDS cases. Consider these statistics
- In 2013, 1246 people in Melbourne were living with diagnosed HIV.
- That is a rate of 260 of every 100,000 people
- Both of those numbers are above the national averages for 2013
Over the past 20 years, rates have been steadily increasing at an alarming rate surpassing that of the state. Look at these state statistics comparing STD cases from 1994-96 to 2013-2015.
- Total Gonorrhea, Chlamydia & Infectious Syphilis cases have almost doubled from 3616 to 6624.
- Bacterial STD cases in women ages 15-34 increased from 180-318.
- Chlamydia cases more than doubled from a reported total of 2158 to 5165.
- Rated for Congenital Syphilis cases dropped from 51 per 100,000 to 18 per 100,000
As you can see, with the exception of Congenital Syphilis, STDs are on the rise in Melbourne.
Fortunately, there are testing centers available for residents in the area. The city is also home to several colleges, universities, hospitals, and clinics. With all of these resources, there is no excuse not to get tested.
The Florida Department of Health in Brevard County, FL has the responsibility for controlling STDs in the area. Services are offered at multiple locations, mostly by appointment. The Health Education and Risk Reduction program includes providing information in STIs including HIV/AIDS. A graphic presentation teaches about the signs and symptoms of various STDs. Other topics covered include Herpes testing, HIV testing, and counseling.
It is also home to the Florida Institute of Technology and their Health Care Management program. The Student Health Center located on campus has a very safe and convenient place for the students to get STD testing and the counseling as needed. Gardasil vaccinations are available and are often 100% free with insurance coverage. The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) requires the insurance plans to cover the annual free STD testing for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea for women as well as free annual screenings for HIV and syphilis for both men and women.
College students are particularly at risk for STD transmission as they fall within the age range of those most likely to be infected. The program at FIT and their free STD clinic is typical of those offered at the colleges and the universities across the United States of America.
The population of the city represents a broad spectrum. There is a broad base of young professionals and their families, well-educated professionals, and retirees. The median age there is 47, which is older than the Florida average of 41 indicating a higher number of retirees. The male to female ratio is 1:1.
However, there is a higher percentage of English speaking people than in the rest of the state as well as nationally. Although, the higher median age range can help to account for the lower than state average infection rates, as the STDs tend to be more prevalent among younger adults. While the overall quality of health care options in the area is adequate, there are still many who do not have access to insurance and thus no real access to testing and treatment.
The availability of fast and confidential STD testing is critical to stemming the spread of all STDs. Early detection and treatment is essential too. Many in the past had foregone an STD test due to the social stigma associated with infection. Education has helped to relieve much of that stigma. Still, confidentiality is one of the most important aspects of any successful testing program.
The city, with its older population, is below the Florida average when it comes to STD statistics. However, when the numbers are compared nationally, the impression is not as good. The state is a leader in STD infections in the United States. Many factors contribute to this, and it is impossible to pinpoint only one as the primary cause.
It suffers as much from association with the state and with the Southeast in general as from any other factor. While most of the numbers in the area are trending in the wrong direction, the growth in numbers of cases and infection rates remains below the state average, the evidence is that the locals are doing something right. Effective and available confidential testing is the first step in reducing the area’s high STI rates.
A variety of low cost treatment options and the availability of health care also play a huge role in the areas STD cases and rates of infection. Improvements are still needed, but there is hope that its statistics will continue to show signs that the sexual health of its residents is headed in the right direction.