For the last twenty years local and state health officials have been watching STD rates rise in the city and surrounding Orange County. Each year more residents test positive for a sexually transmitted infection and this includes older adults, as well as teens.
According to the recent statistics released by the CDC and Orange County Health Department the number of adults ages 20 to 24 who contract Chlamydia, Gonorrhea or early Syphilis exceeds those for teens. Older residents are also testing positive more often, especially for primary and secondary Syphilis.
While local health officials expected high rates of infection in teens, the growing number of adults who contract a sexually transmitted disease each year is causing concern. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea still affect a higher percentage of teens and young adults, but HIV and Syphilis diagnoses are increasing in older residents. Men over the age of 24 are among those particularly at risk for these potentially deadly transmittable infections.
There are several reasons for the increasing STD rate in the city and county, and the best way for residents to protect themselves is by regular testing. With even Hepatitis B and Herpes incidents increasing in frequency, it has never been so important for residents to take responsibility for their sexual health.
Some of the other statistics recently released by the Orange County Health Department include,
- Syphilis rates in men have been steadily increasing in the county since 2005.
- African American and Hispanic males present the highest risk for contracting Syphilis and HIV/AIDS.
- 42 percent of all Chlamydia cases in 2014 were reported in women ages 20 to 24.
- In 2014 Gonorrhea rates did decrease in women, but rose significantly in young men.
Known for its beaches, amusement parks, celebrities and myriad of other attractions, in 2016 the state decided it also did not want to be famous for its high STD rates. In response to the rapidly growing number of STDs reported each year the governor signed a bill into law making it mandatory for all public schools to include comprehensive sexual education classes in their curriculum.
The new sex education classes were implemented during the 2016 school year, and within the first four months the teen pregnancy rate started to drop. While it is still too soon to tell if the STD rates will also be positively affected, local and state health officials are hopeful that they will begin to show signs of decreasing.
Along with including comprehensive and current information that is designed to give students all of the facts they need to know to stay safe and be sexually active. It is important to note that the new program does not encourage teens to engage in sexual activity, it just provides them with the information they need to protect themselves and others from all of the sexually transmitted diseases.
One of the main changes is that now students learn how important regular HIV testing in Mission Viejo is for everyone’s continued good health. They also learn that this simple procedure is currently the only way to positively detect the presence of the disease. Students are also taught that regular Herpes testing in Mission Viejo is just as important, and that it can prevent the spread of the virus through area high schools.
This planned community has a diverse population and while this adds to its appeal, it is also contributing to the area’s high STD rate. Different cultural and religious beliefs are making it difficult for health officials to reach everyone to explain how important regular STI testing is if they want to protect themselves and their loved ones.
The city is also dealing with a lack of funding that is necessary to keep community health centers open. Budget cuts have forced several STI clinics to close their doors, leaving nearby residents with no place to go if they think that they might have been infected with a sexually transmitted disease. Some residents are finding it difficult to afford the simple procedure, especially now that it is no longer covered under most government sponsored health insurance plans.
City leaders have started to address the area’s high STD rates by including sex education classes in primary and secondary public schools. Now that teens and young adults have the information they need to protect themselves, officials are hopeful that this will help lower the rate of infection over the next few years. With teens learning about the dangers and responsibilities associated with engaging in sex, local leaders are hopeful that some of this information will also be passed on to older residents.
As the second largest planned community in the county there is plenty for residents to see and do in Mission Viejo, but it is also important to take a few minutes and take care of your sexual health. It is understandable that you don’t want to spend the entire day waiting in line at a STI clinic, but this is also not a reason to continue to put off this important health checkup. You can skip the long lines and schedule confidential STD testing with one simple phone call, and only spend a few minutes at a nearby lab. This way you can take care of your sexual health and still have plenty of time to explore this beautiful community.