While a few lucky states have been seeing a decrease in STD’s, the entire nation as a whole is currently experiencing an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases. Gonorrhea is the most widely spread STD across the nation and New Hampshire is currently in the midst of an increasing number of Gonorrhea cases. In the past 17 years, the state has seen a whopping 102% increase of infectious Gonorrhea, with rates currently at 18.6 people per 100,000 who are infected yearly.
Chlamydia most commonly affects females under the age of 30 with southern NH being the area with the most cases. Rates of Chlamydia have been continuously increasing over the years, with 84% more diagnoses since 2000, when the rate of infection was only 150 out of every 100,000 people. Today that rate is much higher with approximately 271 out of every 100,000 people infected.
- Cases of HIV in New Hampshire have consistently decreased in the last 17 years
- Gonorrhea rates in the past 4 years have increased by 86%, with males under the age of 40 being the most affected
- The instances of Chlamydia in NH have increased by 22% since 2011
- Over the past 17 years the diagnosis of Syphilis rates, including Primary, Secondary and Early Syphilis, have skyrocketed in New Hampshire by a whopping 1250%
While most STD’s in New Hampshire have been increasing over the years, HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, has actually been decreasing. HIV rates as of 2015 have been at an all-time low of 1.7 people infected per 100,000, an overall decrease of 35% of new HIV cases since the year 2000.
New Hampshire school children begin learning about HIV/AIDS beginning in elementary school and then progress to education about the prevention of HIV, STD’s, and pregnancy in middle school. However, these are merely guidelines since the state of NH does not have a specific sexual education curriculum for elementary and middle school, nor do they state what can and cannot be taught during sex ed. The emphasis on abstinence being the most effective means to prevent STD’s, HIV, and pregnancy remains at the forefront of sexual education in high school.
Through partial government funding, New Hampshire has an abstinence-until-marriage program called Why Am I Tempted (WAIT), which is taught to high school juniors and seniors. This program focuses on not having sex until marriage for religious purposes and employs shameful and fear-based tactics centered on misogynistic opinions. The WAIT program provides virtually no information on STD’s or HIV as it focuses on the young adults not having sex at all.
Unfortunately, this is a window of missed opportunity to teach high school students about the importance of sexual health care, such as how crucial it is to have HIV testing done every 6 months as well as the fact that Herpes testing is usually not included in STD screening.
A 2007 study shows that despite NH having a lack of mandatory sexual education, rates for high school students engaging in sex and having multiple partners was slightly lower than nationwide statistics. Additionally, statistics show that New Hampshire high school students are a bit more likely to use a condom and/or birth control than the rest of the nation’s high school students.
As New Hampshire is one of the states in this country with the lowest poverty rates, financial restriction does not seem to play a role in the rate of STD infections. Rather, the lack of a proper sexual education in all grades of school that has been substituted with fear-based abstinence programs looks to be a viable cause for the increase of STD transmission.
While NH is now a swing state with nearly equal amounts of Republicans and Democrats, the conservative views the state has always had still shine through brightly. This can be seen in the many evangelical communities throughout the state, specifically southern NH where they, along with certain STD’s, are most prominent. Religious conservative opinions often incite views of abstinence as being the one and only way to prevent STD’s and pregnancy.
The statistics showing a rise in certain STD’s are especially true in southern NH, where, coincidentally, evangelical establishments far outweigh the amount of STD clinics available. The lack of access to STD testing is often seen in a lot of states and communities where evangelical teachings are prominent and New Hampshire is no exception. Shaming young adults about sexual health effectively prevents them from seeking an STD test out of embarrassment. This can be seen by the increase of STD cases over the past 17 years, with Chlamydia rates rising 84%, Gonorrhea rising 102%, and most notably, the 1,250% rise of Syphilis.
Better Sexual Health with STI Testing
Studies show that sexually transmitted diseases that go untreated, especially Syphilis, cause damage to the body and disrupt fertility. Sexual health is important for every person who has had sex or is currently sexually active. A quick and simple test at the lab can save lives by detecting the presence of STD’s and providing treatment for them.
While most cities have a free STD clinic, you should know that the experience at one is usually embarrassing. Since these free STD testing clinics are understaffed, it’s common for the wait times to be very long. Not to mention, since you’re having an appointment with a doctor, they will ask a lot of personal questions that may make you uneasy. It’s not really their business anyway, right?
The good news is you don’t have to deal with that when you visit a private STD testing center because no doctors are involved. You simply visit the lab for same day STD testing and then continue on with your day. This makes for a more comfortable experience–and a faster one at that! Plus, you get your results back a lot quicker than you do when you have testing done through a free STD clinic.