Each time a clinic or other health care provider performs an STD test, the results and some demographic information is shared with the health department. No names or information that could identify you are used. The reason that data is collected is that analysts within the health department and the Center for Disease Control can try to assess the overall health of the people in the region. They are also attempting to pinpoint who is the most at risk. Data including ethnicity, age, area of residence, gender and income level are of the most interest. This information is compared with the reports that are generated from other cities in the country and the health of the city is ranked in accordance. The following table shows the results for this region based upon positive results per 100,000 in population.
- Chlamydia- 459.9 (22)
- Gonorrhea- 118.5 (15)
- Syphilis (all types)- 29.8
Syphilis rates in this area are two and a half times higher than those found in the state of Massachusetts. This is an alarming rate for this dangerous disease. The region ranks 22nd in the nation for Chlamydia and 15th for Gonorrhea. This is cause for concern because the sexual health of the people of this city is in great peril. Residents are in need of this information to help them make educated decisions about their sexual behaviors and risk factors. Syphilis is among the most dangerous STD among these three types as it has the potential for delivering a host of health complications and death if not caught early and properly treated.
The statistics on STD rates is based upon the number of people who have actually received STD testing. If more people in the at risk groups would get tested, it is believed that the rates would skyrocket. High numbers of people living in poverty is one reason why the test rates are not as high as they should be. A lack of information and financial resources prevents many from getting the testing and treatment that is needed. Many people are not fully aware of their risk, nor of the symptoms that indicate an STD. For those who may suspect an infection, not all have the money to seek quality health care.
Getting accurate information about STD signs, symptoms, resources and safe sex practices is the solution to the problem. There are free testing centers available, but not everyone knows about them. Special programs exist to offer testing and treatment services and free or reduced rates which are income sensitive.
Community based campaigns help to distribute information in the form of literature and public service announcements, and while they are reaching some of the population, there are still those that are unaware. Public schools have infused sex health ed into the curriculum, which may help to alleviate the problem of the spread of STDs in the generations to come. As it stands now, students who go through the public school system will be able to recognize the signs of an STD. In addition, they have a better understanding of the importance of safe sex practices and they will know where to go for a Herpes test or for HIV testing. Mandatory STD screening as a part of prenatal programs is also helping to diagnose pregnant women so measures can be taken to prevent these diseases from being passed on to newborn babies. There is a lot of good work being done to help curb the spread of STDs in the city. More needs to be done to help identify those who are infected, but unaware, and further inflaming the situation.
Everyone can do their part to help slow the STD rates in this beautiful city. If you have had unsafe sex with a partner whose health is questionable, or with multiple partners, then you are definitely at risk for having an STD. If you notice any abnormal symptoms, your risk is greater. Even if you aren’t showing any symptoms, you could still be infected. It is in your best interest to find out for sure, and the only way to do this is to get tested. Ordering testing is fast and it is easy to do. Once you’ve placed the order, simply take a few moments of your time to visit a testing lab so they can finish the process. It doesn’t take long. In most cases, fifteen or twenty minutes is the max and it may not even take that long. You’ll be treated with respect and professionalism and your privacy will be strictly guarded.
You owe it to yourself and to your community to do your part to help stamp out the problem of rampant STD rates. When a friend or loved one comes to you with a concern about their sexual health, share the information that you have gained and let them know how easy, safe and confidential STD testing really is.