Since residents of this small city seem to be more interested in their rich nautical history and artistic endeavors it is a little surprising to learn that the area is also dealing with a high STD rate.
According to recent statistics released by the Bristol County Health Department and CDC the number of residents that test positive for one or more sexually transmitted disease is rising, and has been for the last two decades.
Over the last twenty years STD rates in the county have been steadily increasing, and this includes all of the commonly transmitted sexual diseases. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea rates are up in young men and women, and area high schools are seeing more students contract this embarrassing virus. What is really alarming to local and state health officials is the fact that HIV and Syphilis rates are also climbing.
While some local leaders are quick to point out that the city and county have STD rates well below state averages, it should be noted that the area also has a significantly lower population. When the numbers are compared on population alone, residents can really get an idea of how high these rates are. This is only one of the reasons why health officials are urging residents to remember to make STD testing a regular part of their annual physical exam.
Some of the statistics that highlight the growing STD problem in the area include,
- In 2014 the Chlamydia rate for the county was reported at 296.6 per 100,000 residents.
- The area reported a Gonorrhea rate of 24.8 per 100,000 residents in 2014.
- Primary and secondary Syphilis rates were 2.6 per 100,000 people for Bristol County in 2014.
In 2015 the state passed a bill that requires public schools to teach medically accurate and age appropriate sex education classes, instead of relying on the outdated abstinence based curriculum. While this might seem like a positive step towards educating teens on the dangers associated with sexually transmitted diseases, there is a large loophole in the bill.
The newly passed bill does not actually require public schools to teach sex education classes, even at the high school level. All it states is that if the public schools decide to offer these classes it must meet the new requirements. This means that many public school districts are still choosing to only discuss HIV/AIDS preventative measures, and this is usually only due to the fact that it is required by federal law.
The majority of parents and educators still believe that abstinence is the best way to prevent the spread of STDs, even though these diseases can be transmitted in through various ways. This also means that students aren’t taught that regular Herpes testing in New Bedford is important, even though this virus is common in almost all area high schools.
The importance of regular HIV testing in New Bedford is also not covered in the curriculum, and this is putting residents of all ages at risk.
There are several demographical factors that are causing the STD rates to rise in the city, but the main one is lack of education. The majority of area high school students graduate without understanding how STDs are spread, and it is not uncommon for some to not even know how to properly use a condom. Not only does this put students health at risk, but also everyone else in the community.
Most teens and young adults also do not understand how important it is to be tested for all STDs regularly, and this is also true for older residents. Not all STIs are transmitted through sexual activity, and some do not even display noticeable signs and symptoms until they have already infected others. If everyone got tested regularly this would no longer be a problem.
The area has also undergone several financial crises which has affected its health care system. Budget cuts have forced several STI clinics to close, while others only have limited hours of operation. This has resulted in long lines and staffing problems that many residents simply do not want to deal with, especially if they are not exhibiting any noticeable symptoms. Even though you might think that you are not at risk, it is still important to get tested on a regular basis.
Adding to the problem is the fact that STD tests are no longer covered under Medicaid, and this has left many residents unable to afford the simple procedure. Until these and other problems are resolved this small city can expect to see its STD rates continue to rise.
Before you start exploring the art galleries and exhibits it is important to take a few minutes to think about your sexual health. Even if you are not sexually active it is still possible to contract a STD and pass it on to others. It is understandable if you don’t want to wait in the long lines at the STI testing centers, and now there is a faster and more convenient way to take care of your sexual health. You can schedule confidential STD testing with one simple phone call, and only spend a few minutes in the privacy of a nearby lab.