As part of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area the independent city of Portsmouth is facing many of the same problems, and this includes a high rate of STDs among residents of all ages and ethnicities. According to statistics released by the Virginia Health Department and CDC, the number of people that test positive for a STD has been increasing in the area at an alarming rate.
What is even more alarming is the fact that the number of STDs reported has been steadily increasing for the past twenty years.
In 2011, the CDC reported that the metropolitan area ranked number one in the nation for its high Chlamydia and Gonorrhea rates, and second for percentage of residents that test positive for HIV. The statistics also indicated that African American men were among those with the greatest risk for contracting a STD, followed closely by women.
In the last five years these statistics have remained the same and have followed the same trend as the rest of the state. Each year the number of residents that receive treatment for STDs keeps increasing, especially among teens and young adults.
While health officials were prepared to see high number of Gonorrhea and Chlamydia infections, they were not ready for the increasing number of residents that are testing positive for Syphilis. Over the last ten years the number of primary and secondary Syphilis diagnoses has rapidly increased, and is now causing real concern with state and local health officials.
Some of the statistics that highlight the need for residents to understand how important regular STD testing is for their continued good health include,
- In 2013 there were 1,030 cases of Chlamydia reported, compared to 1,050 in 2015.
- 2011 saw 289 Gonorrhea incidents, compared to the 352 reported in 2014.
- The city reported 18 cases of early Syphilis in 2011, and a total of 24 in 2014.
The state of Virginia relies heavily on its Family Life Program when it comes to sex education in the public schools. This program focus primarily on abstinence, and some educators even go so far as to declare sex immoral and evil if you are not married. While some parents and educators are hopeful that if nothing else these classes will scare impressionable teens away from sex, studies are showing that this is not the case.
Recent surveys and polls conducted in high schools across the nation show that teens are engaging in sexual activity at a young age, and that the majority of students have had intercourse at least once before they graduate. With statistics like these it is easy to see why this metro area has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the state.
There have been recent changes to the Family Life Program that shows state and local officials are paying attention to the high STD rate. Along with ensuring that all information on STDs meets federal requirements and is medically accurate, students are also learning how to deal with transgender and identity issues.
While this is a start in the right direction students still need to know how important regular Herpes testing is in Portsmouth, and how it can help stop the spread of the disease in public schools. Regular HIV testing in Portsmouth is also important, and this information is still waiting to be included in the current sex education program.
There are several demographical factors that can be blamed for the metro area’s high STD rate. The city’s busy naval shipyard is constantly bringing in new sailors and soldiers and it is not uncommon for them to be infected with a STD without even realizing it. Since sexually transmitted infections can be spread through a variety of methods, it can be easy to pass these diseases to other people.
Recent changes to federal health insurance policies are another reason for the rising STD rates, along with budget cuts to community facilities. Now that testing is now longer covered by Medicaid, many residents are finding they can’t afford this important checkup. Lack of funding has forced many STI clinics to close their doors, and others are operating with limited staff and shorter hours. All of this combined is making it difficult for many residents to get tested, and as long as this continues the STD rates will continue to rise.
Other contributing factors include the appalling lack of information on the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, along with the various steps residents can take to protect themselves. Until everyone understands how easily STDs can be spread and realizes the importance of regular testing, this small city can expect to see the number of residents infected each year continue to rise.
Before you head out to explore the natural beauty of Craney Island or tour the naval yard, it is important to take a few minutes and think about your sexual health. Getting tested regularly for all of the STDs is the best way to protect yourself and loved ones, and the simple procedure doesn’t have to take all day. Now you can easily schedule confidential STD testing with one simple phone call and only spend a few minutes at a conveniently located lab. This way you can take care of your sexual health and still have plenty of time to explore this historic city.