The CDC and Middlesex County Health Department recently released statistics showing that STD rates are rising in Boston and its suburbs. This includes Newton, and these statistics surprised many of the area’s residents. Over the past twenty years the number of sexually transmitted diseases reported in the suburb and county have been steadily rising, and this means that everyone’s sexual health is potentially at risk.
The area has one of the highest rates for Chlamydia infections in the state, and this is also true for Gonorrhea. The number of reported Syphilis incidents in adults ages 25 to 29 is increasing, but the statistics also indicate that they are decreasing in teens. When it comes to HIV/AIDS and the number of new cases reported each year the statistics show that these rates are remaining basically unchanged. They might not be decreasing, but they’re also not rising and this is good news for residents.
Women ages 15 to 24 accounted for the majority of Chlamydia incidents reported each year, while men have the highest risk for contracting Gonorrhea. Males 25 to 29 years old test positive for Syphilis more often than men in other age brackets. Even though it may seem like the infectious Syphilis rate is decreasing, it is important to note that it is actually rising in women by one or two cases each year.
Some of the other statistics that highlight the growing STD problem in the area include,
- The Syphilis rate for women increased from 0.6 per 100,000 in 2005 to 1.5 per 100,000 in 2014.
- In 2014 the greater metro area was ranked among the top 5 for its high Gonorrhea rate.
- The city reported one of the highest Chlamydia rates in the state in 2014.
In 2015 state lawmakers passed a bill that now requires all public school systems to teach medically accurate and age appropriate sex education classes, if they offer the program. Abstinence based curriculum is no longer allowed to be used since it has proven to be ineffective at lowering teen pregnancy and STD rates.
While this is a positive first step, many educators and health officials do not believe that it goes far enough since it does not require public schools to provide sex education classes. This means that districts that do not approve of the new curriculum simply don’t have to offer sex education to their students.
Unfortunately some school districts are deciding to drop their limit sex education programs in wake of the new requirements. This means that many students won’t have access to the information they need to protect their sexual health. It is not uncommon for teens to graduate not understanding the importance of always using protection, and the majority won’t be aware of the risks and responsibilities that come with being sexually active.
Students and adults are taught that regular HIV testing in Newton is an important part of any health care routine or that the simple procedure could potentially save their lives. The same is also true regarding regular Herpes testing in Newton, even though it is the best way to prevent this infectious virus in area high schools.
One of the main factors that are causing the STD rates to rise in this bedroom community is the lack of sex education programs in the public schools. Teens are often graduating not understanding how sexually transmitted diseases can be spread, and most do not realize how important it is to visit a nearby STI clinic on a regular basis. This lack of available information is also affecting the STD rates in adults.
There is a limited number of testing facilities in the suburb, and this is making it inconvenient for residents to take care of their sexual health. Many do not want to spend the day waiting in a long line, and there is always the fear that they could run into a friend or family member. The lack of community health centers is also making it difficult for some residents to find one that is conveniently located.
Recent budget cuts are being held responsible for the lack of clinics, and the lack of funding is also affecting some residents’ ability to pay for regular STD testing. The simple procedure was previously covered under Medicaid, and now that this is no longer true many lower income families simply cannot afford the important procedure.
Until these and other contributing factors are resolved the community can expect to see its STD rates continue to rise.
Before you head off for a day of shopping at Newton Centre or tour one of the nearby colleges, it is important to take a few minutes to think about your sexual health. The number of sexually transmitted diseases reported each year is rising, and the best way to protect yourself is to get tested on a regular basis. It is understandable if you don’t want to spend the entire day waiting in a crowded community health facility and now there is an easier way to get tested. You can easily schedule confidential STD testing just by making one simple phone call. This way you only have to spend a few minutes in a local lab so you’ll still have plenty of time to explore this historic neighborhood.