Local sexual health statistics are gathered by Washington State, the department of health and the CDC.
The STD statistics for the area show:
- Chlamydia at a lower than national race with a statistic of 355 per 100,000.
- Syphilis is the lowest of all STDs prevalence with 1.9 per 100,000.
- Gonorrhea is also below national rate with 33 per 100,000.
- HIV is currently at an infection rate of 88 per 100,000.
There is a four times higher rate of men contracting new cases of HIV versus women. There also seems to be a disproportionate infection rate of several racial and ethnic minorities including black, Hispanic, and Asian versus the Caucasian population where the infection rate is far lower. HIV affects people of all ages with the highest rate of infection being those between 25 and 34 years of age.
In rates reported by the Department of Health Chlamydia incidents were highest in the 20 to 24-year-old population with females being affected much more frequently than males. Given that the millennials are having a higher incidence in all STD infections, it seems important that education around prevention become more diligent in the region. Fortunately there are more ways to get this information readily available at health clinics and medical centers.
In a long-term comparison of STD rates over the past 20 years we see decease across all sexually transmitted diseases with a gradual yet consistent climb in new infections beginning again in the new millennium. Perhaps the fact that HIV is no longer a death sentence has influenced the amount of caution around contracting all STDs.
Fortunately for residents the healthy youth act of 2015 discusses HIV and sexual health education in the state and is mandated for schools statewide. Hopefully this new wave of educated citizens will help the rates to continue their descent.
In the local school board, all instruction and materials used in teaching sexual health class to students:
- must be medically and scientifically accurate
- age appropriate
- appropriate for students regardless of gender, race, and sexual orientation and disability status
- consistent with curriculum guidelines provided
The overarching theme is ensuring the goal of sex education is safe and healthy understanding of sexuality. The curriculum acknowledges that people may choose to abstain from sexual activities at various points in their life and stresses that abstinence is the only certain way to avoid the spread of STDs however, it also provides accurate information about STDs including how they’re transmitted and the efficacy of all FDA approved methods of reducing the transmission rates of these diseases. Information is provided on local resources for testing and medical care and includes promoting healthy self-esteem as well as the message that sexuality will be a lifelong process needs and circumstances change.
HIV testing is easily available in multiple locations with results available in 2-4 weeks. Herpes testing with same-day results is available as well with walk-in or appointment options.
Starting students with accurate and easily accessed information begins a solid foundation for ensuring sexual health in the community.
It is a small city with just over 46,000 people living in 20,000 households. The predominately white community represents 82% of the local population and the balance is split between African-American, Native American, Asian, and Hispanic.
The median age in the city is 38 years old with 19% of residents being under the age of 18. The gender makeup is very close to 50/50 ratio. It is a well-educated community and it also has low rates of obesity. This healthy culture might contribute to the lower STD rates as compared to the nation’s averages. West coast attitudes prevail here which can mean more open-minds coupled with a push-back to rules. Continued conversation around STD rates helps influence locals to get tested and practice sexual safety.
The city has a number of institutions of higher learning which could explain why there is a higher STD incidence in the millennial population. Youthful exuberance coupled with the pre-frontal cortex (center for decision making) that doesn’t completely develop until around 25 means this population needs an ongoing reminder around sexual safety.
It’s not surprising that the areas of Olympia East and Nisqually Indian Community has a higher teen pregnancy rates as well has a higher number of families on public assistance. Populations living beneath the poverty level and with lower education typically show higher rates of disease and pregnancies and younger moms. It’s important that local health providers continue to reach out to these populations. Fortunately there are free health clinics in the region that cater to anyone who doesn’t have health coverage or who simply needs some information, testing, diagnosis, or treatment.
Olympia is a health-conscious city; they love spring water and hikes through fresh air. With a higher than usual percentage of the population being employed by the government, not only are citizens taking full advantage of Obama-care, there is also funding to reach all populations. Comprehensive STD testing is available on a walk-in basis, sometimes in as little as five minute according to online ads from some private STD clinics. Health-care facilities that provide education and diagnosis are becoming more common as well as mail-order home swabs you send in to a lab for anonymous results.