A warning recently released from the Riverside University Health has shown some alarming rate increases in STDs in the region.
Data shows that the rate of syphilis in the Coachella Valley is rising significantly, as high as 192.3 per 100,000 in one zip code. The rise of the syphilis rate among local men is of particular local concern. The largest increase in STDs between 2013 and 2015 was seen among Caucasians followed by Hispanic populations. Based on these findings, gay and bisexual men are at a particularly high risk for syphilis. According to the RUHS Public Health report Syphilis Incidence in Coachella Valley, 2015:
- Syphilis rates more than doubled from 2013 to 2015, from 14.7 to 30.9.per 100,000.
- Nearly 98% of all cases are among men.
- The most impacted age group is 40 to 64.
- In 2013 there were no cases in individuals 65+ old, however in 2015 there were 6 cases in this age group.
STD statistical data in California is collected by county rather than city. Palm Springs is a part of the collection area of Riverside County and in this region. Current stats show:
- There are 5400 people living with HIV or AIDS currently in the county.
- On average 240 people a year are diagnosed with HIV in the county.
- Over half of all persons living with HIV aids in the county reside in the Coachella Valley.
As for other STDs:
- Riverside County reported gonorrhea cases were up 142% between 2011 and 2015
- Syphilis was up 7.4%
- Chlamydia was up 12%
The CDC says with many STD cases going undiagnosed and untreated in the area people are at risk for severe and often irreversible health consequences including infertility, chronic pain, and increased transmission of HIV.
Despite ads in the area boasting a Herpes cure, currently this infection rate is not getting lower- the good news- local dating services actually advertise dates for those similarly afflicted. Doctors recommend ensuring that new partners are infection-free by getting tested before engaging in sex.
The American Public Health Association together with the Center for Disease Control have stipulated that instruction for sexual health information be age appropriate and medically accurate and the entire state California has recently mandatedthat all schools teach sexual health.
The curriculum is required to be appropriate for people of all races and genders and sexual orientations. It also cannot promote religious doctrine. From grade 7 on, it must include information about abstinence while also providing medically accurate information about disease and pregnancy. This is fabulous news for local students especially when you contrast it to many states where sexual education is teaching abstinence only prior to marriage.
Each school district provides curriculum and training for all teachers to conduct HIV prevention education and in addition there are standards that must be met on the topics of STDs, contraception, condoms, pregnancy and violence.
Another good thing that’s happening in the Coachella Valley an increase of health clinics that cater to youth and their needs for protection, diagnosis and treatment.
There are two clinics in the valley run by the county and both offer walk-in times reserved specifically for under 25 year olds.
When we look at the demographics for Riverside County related to chlamydia, gonorrhea, and early syphilis we see a trend of a higher incidence in females outnumbering male infections almost 2-1 in the 20 to 24-year-old category. Chlamydia is most prevalent in the Hispanic population.
It is a largely Caucasian community with higher education rates than most of the country. The median household income is almost $55,000 with 13% of the population living below the poverty line (this is similar to the state wide poverty level). This may reflect why the statistics are stronger in the Hispanic demographic than across other more affluent demographics.
Fortunately the STI testing facilities make taking control of your sexual health easier for everyone.
The desert oasis is a really fun place; whether you’re sitting by the pool on a vacation, enjoying retirement or working to get ahead while raising a family,there a number of options for getting tested for STDs throughout the Coachella Valley region.
The HIV scare of the 80s may have blown over as we now think of people <em>living with</em> HIV more frequently than <em>dying from</em> AIDS. It’s important not to relax our vigilance too much and to remember that when you have unprotected sex with someone it’s like having sex with all the partners they have had in the past.
Many local physicians offer herpes and HIV testing as part of yearly physical exams. For those without the benefits of health insurance, obtaining tests at one of the local outreach clinics is an option. For all of your needs related to sexual health care, there are health experts waiting to help test, diagnose, and treat. Making sure that you get regularly tested will help remove the stress around your sexual health. Taking care of your health needs and those of your loved ones has never been so simple!