Statistics recently released by the CDC and Hillsborough County Health Department show that the STD rates are rising, and have been for the past twenty years. The statistics also show that it is not just teens and young adults that are testing positive more often, but older residents as well.
The number of women that test positive for Chlamydia is increasing, but females are seeing a decrease in Gonorrhea rates. Unfortunately the same is not true for men. Over the last ten years the number of Gonorrhea cases in men has increased significantly, especially among males ages 20 to 24. Overall, men and women under the age of 40 are more likely to contract any of the STDs compared to adults that are 41 and older.
Not only are the Chlamydia and Gonorrhea rates rising in the city, but Syphilis and HIV incidents are also up as well. Men 24 to 28 are among those with the greatest risk for contracting HIV and Syphilis, though the rates are also increasing in older males. According to the statistics Hillsborough County is seeing one of the biggest increases in the state. In 2013 it was estimated that 43.7 percent of the HIV cases reported in the state occurred in the county. This only highlights the growing importance of regular STD testing.
Some of the other statistics recently released that residents should be aware of include,
- In 2014 the Chlamydia rate per 100,000 residents was 265.6, compared to the state’s at 233.
- The HIV rate for the county in 2014 was 147.1, compared to the 102.9 reported by the state.
- Gonorrhea and Syphilis rates for the county in 2014 were also above state averages.
Even though STD and teen pregnancy rates are rising the state still does not require its public school districts to provide sex education classes for its students. If a public school does decide to offer sex education it must include information on STDs and HIV/AIDS, and be abstinence based. This means that while teens do receive some information on how STDs can be spread, they are still taught that simply abstaining from sex until marriage is the best and only effective to prevent contracting a venereal disease.
While some information is usually better than none, in this case it can actually increase residents chances for contracting a STD, even if they aren’t sexually active. Since STDs can be easily spread without engaging in any type of sexual activity, abstinence is not the best method of protection. What this information does is give students a false sense of security and it can lead them to mistakenly believe that as long as they abstain for sex they will never contract a transmittable disease.
The sex education classes also do not include any information on the importance of always using protection if students do decide to become sexually active. Regular HIV testing in Nashua is never discussed, even though the simple procedure is the only way to positively detect the potentially deadly disease. Students also are aware that regular Herpes testing in Nashua could prevent the virus from continuing to spread through area high schools.
There are several reasons why the STD rates are so high in this New England city. Advances in health care are making it possible for older adults to stay sexually active longer, and most never consider the fact that their behavior could be putting them at risk for contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Budget cuts to health care, especially Medicaid is making it difficult for some lower income residents to afford regular STI testing even if they believe that they may have contracted a sexually transmitted disease.
These same budget cuts have also forced some of the city’s testing facilities to close their doors or only stay open for a limited amount of time. Not only is this making it harder for residents to find a convenient place to get tested, the long lines at the few clinics that are open are causing many residents to put off this important health procedure.
What is considered the main contributing factor to the rising STD rates is the lack of comprehensive sex education classes. Teens and young adults simply do not understand the risks and responsibilities that come with being sexually active, and this is putting everyone’s health at risk. With the increasing popularity of dating apps that are making it easier than ever for teens and adults to “hook up” not knowing how to protect yourself from STDs is more important than ever.
Before you take a scenic drive along Route 101A or tour the historic Tremont House it is important to take a few minutes to think about your sexual health. The number of STDs reported in the city is rising each year and this means that residents need to be tested on a regular basis regardless of their sexual activity. It is understandable if you don’t want to spend the day waiting in a long line and now there is a faster and easier way to get tested. Simply by making one phone call you can schedule confidential STD testing and only spend a few minutes at a local lab. This way you can take care of your sexual health and still have plenty of time to take a stroll along the Nashua River dam.