Local hospitals, STD testing centers and private physicians gather data from STD tests which are performed. The information is forwarded to State health departments and the Center for Disease Control for inclusion in a nationwide database. No personal information is shared so you can rest assured that your privacy and confidentiality is strictly protected. Demographic data which includes area of residence, age, ethnicity and gender are used to determine which groups of people are at the highest risk for contracting certain sexually transmitted diseases. Analysts compile the data which shows a high degree of consistency for who is at the greatest risk for a particular STD and it is used to target these groups with educational campaigns )ill encourage them to seek testing and if necessary, treatment. The following statistics show the rates of selected STD infections per 100,000 in population.
- Chlamydia- 422.1
- Gonorrhea- 140.6
- Syphilis- 31.2
Although these figures are alarming, health department officials believe that if everyone in high risk groups would get tested, they would increase significantly. There is a strong realization among health professionals that the sexual health of residents in this area are at risk because of this epidemic.
Efforts are currently being made to reach target populations with educational resources about STD rates and risk factors. The statistics show that the risk for people age 15 to 19 years of age is increasing. Health department and government officials have worked in a collaborative effort to mandate sexual health education in all of the public schools. The courses are provided just prior to the age at which some youth begin sexual experimentation. Information about the consequences of unprotected sex including unwanted pregnancy and STDs is presented. After completion of the classes, students know where to get a Herpes test and where to go for HIV testing in the area.
Poverty is widespread in this area and it is a contributing factor for high risk for STD infection. People with few financial resources are less likely to have access to educational information and quality health care services for STD testing and treatment. The public school dropout rate is higher in impoverished areas and these students. Some will miss the opportunity for sexual health education at this vital time of life.
In addition to poverty, age, gender and ethnicity appear to play a role in elevating risk for certain STDs. Chlamydia is twice as high in women than men. Those in the 20 -24 age group have the highest positive test results followed by those 15-19, then 25 to 29. Persons of Black ethnicity have the highest rates followed by Hispanics, then Whites.
Gonorrhea rates are slightly higher for men than for women. Men in the 20 to 24 age group rank the highest followed by those 25 to 29 with 30 to 34 being the next highest, then age 15-19. Syphilis in all stages is less common, but is becoming more widespread, particularly in those who have male to male sex and it is more frequently diagnosed in populations who have also tested HIV positive. There is also a higher rate of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea in these groups.
Understanding which groups are at the highest risk for certain STDs gives health officials a target to aim for with educational campaigns. While there are STD testing centers in the area that offer free or reduced rates for people who meet income guidelines for qualification, there is a limited amount of funding available. When block funding is depleted, there may be a waiting period until it is replenished. During this period of time, people who are unaware that they are infected may continue to spread STDs to others.
If you are in an at risk group, or if you have had unprotected sex with a person that may not be monogamous, you should receive STD testing. Certain sexually transmitted diseases can lead to other health complications including infertility and problems with successfully carrying a child to term. There are also other potential consequences which can negatively impact your overall health. Some STDs have few or no symptoms in the initial stages and the only way to know for certain is to get tested. The ordering and completion process is quick and easy. It will take less than a half hour of your time to drop by a local clinic. Friendly and professional lab technicians are available to assist you with testing and answer any questions that you may have.
After completion of your confidential STD testing, the results will be on their way and will arrive shortly. You will be glad that you did. For just a few short moments of your time, you will have added peace of mind if the results are negative. If they are positive you will be able to get the treatment and care that you need and avoid further health complications. You owe it to yourself and to everyone who loves and cares about you to protect your sexual health.