The CDC and Ada County Health Department recently released statistics highlighting the city’s growing STD problem. Not only are the number of sexually transmitted diseases reported each year rising, the statistics indicate that this has been a common trend for the past two decades.
Chlamydia rates in women are rising, especially among teens and young adults. Statistics show that women under the age of 25 are among those with the greatest risk for infection. This has local health officials concerned since if left untreated this sexually transmittable disease can result in serious complications. This is also true regarding all STDs if they are not effectively treated.
While women are at an increased risk for contracting Chlamydia, men are testing positive more often for Gonorrhea. What is particularly troublesome to local and state health officials is the rise in the number of men that test positive for primary, secondary and early latent Syphilis. It is not only younger males that are at risk, but older men as well.
It is this sharp increase in Syphilis rates that has made some residents finally start taking responsibility for their sexual health. Unfortunately this is not enough to effectively lower the city’s high STD rates.
Some of the other statistics that highlight the importance of regular STD testing include,
- In 2014 the county’s Gonorrhea rate was reported at 17.5 per 100,000 residents compared to the state’s at 10.5 per 100,000.
- The primary and secondary Syphilis rate for the area in 2014 was more than twice that of the state.
- 2014 statistics show the HIV rate for the county in 2014 was 100.7 compared to the state’s at 63 per 100,000.
Most health officials agree that teens are not getting the information they need to protect themselves from STDs in the classroom. Like many other states Idaho does not have any set guidelines in place for sex education, instead leaving the curriculum up to the individual school systems.
While public schools are required to provide students with age appropriate and medically accurate information regarding HIV and STDs, most still do not learn all of the ways these transmittable diseases can be spread. Most public school districts that do provide sex education classes use abstinence based material that is often outdated and inaccurate.
Instead of helping teens learn how to protect themselves, many abstinence based sex education programs are putting students’ sexual health at risk.
Recent studies have shown that will abstinence is the best way to prevent unplanned pregnancies, it can’t prevent the spread of STDs. When this is coupled with the fact that teens are becoming sexually active at a younger age, it quickly becomes obvious that promoting abstinence is not always an effective solution.
The best method of prevention is to simply educate students about the risks and responsibilities associated with being sexually active. This includes teaching students about the importance of regular Herpes testing in Meridian, and how the simple procedure could prevent the spread of the virus in area high schools. Thankfully teens are already learning about regular HIV testing in Meridian, and how important it is now that the city’s rates are higher than the state’s.
Demographics play a key role in the city’s high STD rate. Even though it is the second largest city in the state, it is still remotely located. This can make it difficult for health officials to reach everyone, and inform them of the importance of being tested on a regular basis.
It’s remote location and smaller size has also resulted in a limited number of STI clinics. Adding to the problem are the recent budget cuts to health care, which has forced some community centers to close their doors. This is making it difficult for residents to find a convenient place to get tested.
The same budget cuts has also resulted in Medicaid no longer covering the STD testing fees, and this means many residents simply cannot afford to take care of their sexual health. According to statistics, these are also some of the people who are at the greatest risk for contracting a STD.
Most health experts agree that the main contributing factor is the lack of comprehensive sex education. It is not uncommon for students to graduate not knowing how important it is to always use protection during intercourse, and this is troublesome considering the fact that the majority of teens are already sexually active.
Until these and other issues are resolved the city can expect to continue to see high STD rates.
Before you decide to spend the day at one of the city’s scenic parks it is important to take a few minutes to think about your sexual health. The number of STDs reported each year is rising, and this means that it is important to get tested on a regular basis. It is understandable if you don’t want to spend the entire day waiting in line at a community health center, and now there is a faster and more convenient option. With one simple phone call you can easily schedule confidential STD testing, and only spend a few minutes at a nearby lab.