Additional STD Test Statistics in Missoula, MT
While STD rates are on the rise in Montana, the state is better than most states. This is according to prevention specialist Judy Nielsen from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.
“For Syphilis in 2016 we ranked 48 out of 50 for the least number of cases, [and] for Gonorrhea we ranked 39 out of 50 [and] for Chlamydia we ranked 31st,” Nielsen said. Nielsen says the spread of syphilis has become a growing concern. 2017 is setting a record pace for the disease.
“Since 2008 Syphilis has averaged less than eight cases. It was in the single digits for close to a decade. Now, since 2014, we’ve been in the double digits. We had 14 cases in 2016 and now, already in the first three months of 2017 we’ve already had ten.”
Although STD rates continue to rise in Montana, the state is unlikely to catch up to the national average. STD rates are rising at a faster pace throughout the country. We see recent data that shows gonorrhea cases more than triple in Missoula County as statewide spike continues. This is according to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.
State officials said the gonorrhea caseload has roughly doubled in each of the past two years to 845 cases in 2015. In comparison Montana tracked 433 new cases in 2014 and 224 new cases in 2013.
Jim Murphy, chief of the department’s Communicable Disease Bureau, said the department is troubled about what is happening in population centers such as Missoula County. This county saw its number of gonorrhea cases jump from 22 in 2014 to 74 in 2015. Murphy said the alarming data about gonorrhea shows the increasing numbers of cases means that the medical community is doing a better job of identifying cases.
“Once you find a case of gonorrhea, a good health department is going to find additional cases because of the follow-up work,” Murphy said, adding that testing, too, is better now. But the spike in numbers is too great to say that it’s simply better detection. It’s clear that the disease is being transmitted more often, he said.
The number of chlamydia cases reported in 2015 was similar to the prior year, but the general trend continues to show a gradual increase with more than 4,100 cases reported. Two other major STDs are holding steady, without the alarming increase that is visible in the gonorrhea data.
Montana tracked 13 primary and secondary infections of syphilis in 2015 – recent cases – including three cases in Missoula County. There are now 19 new HIV cases reported in 2015, one of which involved a person relocating to Montana and the other 18 of which involved Montanans. Missoula is one of two Montana counties that now have over 50 people living with HIV, according to the health department’s data.
STD Testing and Sexual Health Education in Missoula, MT
A Missoula partnership is launching a sex education program for middle-schoolers. Community organizations are getting together to bring sexuality education to Missoula middle-schoolers.
Our Whole Lives (OWL) is a sex-education curriculum developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association and United Church of Christ. The curriculum has a focus on core values: self-worth, sexual health, responsibility, and justice and inclusivity.
“It’s based on an experiential model, using scenarios to help people think through these issues,” said EmpowerMT development and communications specialist Jesse Jaeger. “It helps to have these conversations before it’s real.”
Christopher Coburn, an OWL-certified trainer, added: “We feel by supporting the efforts the schools are putting forward, this can only benefit the youth able to participate to get more education. A lot of it is reinforcing what schools are teaching, but we’ll also give them the space and time to explore topics more in-depth, like body image, impacts of social media on sexuality and the intersections between different components of sexuality,” he said.
Although the curriculum was developed by religious groups, religion only comes into play in a “faith add-on,” which is not included in the program being offered in Missoula.
OWL has programs for grades K-1, 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12. It also has programs for young adults and adults.
Missoula will use the grade 7 to 9 curriculum. We see a study found that teens who received comprehensive sex education were 50 percent less likely to become pregnant than teens who received abstinence-only education.
Public schools’ sex education is also nearly entirely heterosexual-focused. OWL includes LGBTQ perspectives and information. A recent report found gaps in sex education in Montana.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Demographics in Missoula, MT
Demographics play a role in the high STD rates in your city, surrounding region, and the state. Some call the rates in Montana shockingly high.
Young people and minorities are the most affected by three STDs that include chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Minorities, gay men, and other men who have sex with men bear a disproportionate share of the STDs.
Montana figures mirror what is happening nationally, according to state health officials. Montana statistics show a high number of STD cases, especially in the age group of 15 to 24 years, said Laurie Kops of the Department of Public Health and Human Services’ STD-HIV Prevention.
While the national 2010 data shows that overall rates for syphilis went down compared to 2009, the first decrease in 10 years, the rate remained constant year over year in Montana. Five cases of syphilis were reported in both 2009 and 2010. There were 101 cases of gonorrhea reported in Montana in 2010 compared to 80 cases in 2009.
STI Testing Resources in Missoula, MT
Fortunately, there are facilities in your city and area that can help you with STD education, testing, and treatment. The Missoula Health Center/Planned Parenthood is one option.
The staff is trained to help you with your situation and offers STD testing, diagnosis, and treatment including chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Additionally, they provide testing and diagnosis for HIV and testing, diagnosis, and treatment for bacterial vaginosis, genital warts, herpes, and trichomoniasis.
STD prevention services include condoms, HPV (Gardasil) vaccines, hepatitis B vaccines, and STD/safer sex education. The facility tests for gonorrhea and chlamydia using a urine sample.
If this test shows an infection, then you will get treatment and an explanation of how your partner can be treated. Rapid HIV testing is done by swabbing the inside of your mouth with results available in 20-40 minutes.
This health center supports and welcomes clients regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or biological sex, including but not limited to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and intersex clients. All services are provided in a respectful and professional manner.
Keep in mind that in your area there are urgent care centers. One of the less talked about but highly used services of such a center is STD testing.
Whether testing for chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, herpes, HIV, syphilis or any other disease or condition, these STD screenings you can use to help you. You can find online reviews about these centers to help you decide to use one including a service in your city.
PlushCare is another service you could use. It is a private service.
Better Sexual Health in Missoula, MT
Whether you go to Planned Parenthood, a high school counsellor or nurse at an area high school, an online service, or a clinic or hospital, you can find in your area information about STDs, testing, and treatment.
While STD rates are high in your city and area, help is available in your area in the way of testing and treatment that is confidential, discreet, compassionate, and effective. Consider how the staff at these facilities is trained to help someone like you, especially with the staff at Planned Parenthood or any other facility reminding you to check your health, improve it, and keep yourself healthy by always using a condom to practice safe sex.
You can get information about STDs, testing, and treatment if you go to a counsellor or nurse at a school such as Sentinel High School. You could also go to an area hospital such as Community Medical Center – Missoula, Montana. Here are links to resources mentioned above.