Intense efforts from earlier years have resulted in a smooth and seamless system for collecting data on STD infections and other health issues. The Center for Disease Control works diligently with local health departments and health care providers to collect pertinent information from each client that is tested. The data is included in a national database that shows the overall health of major cities and countywide results. These reports are updated quarterly and generated annually for public access. The following table shows the rate of infection frequency for specific sexually transmitted diseases in the city per 100,000 in population.
- Syphilis (all stages) -37.5
- Gonorrhea – 118.3
- Chlamydia – 468.8
When this data is compared with other cities in the nation, it shows that Chlamydia rates are average with the rest of the nation and the risk factors are consistent, but the Gonorrhea rates are somewhat high and the frequency of Syphilis infection are significantly elevated. This indicates a serious problem that requires follow up action to curb the spread of this particular infection.
The only type of information that is gathered about clients receiving STD testing is demographic. No personal information that could identify an individual is shared. Your right to privacy and receiving quality confidential medical services is strictly protected. Only data that is useful in determining risk factors and programs to stop the spread is used. This includes area of residence, age, gender, ethnicity and financial status.
One of the leading demographic factors that influences testing numbers is poverty. Those who live at or below poverty levels are less likely to get STD testing than those from more affluent backgrounds. The reasons are believed to be a lack of information about their need for testing and secondly, their perceived inability to pay for the services. Knowledge is a powerful tool that can dispel all myths and that is why there is a need to get more information out there into the hands of the people who are in at risk categories.
When people become aware of the factors that put them at risk for STD infection, they get a better idea of whether or not they should get tested. When they become aware of the fact that unprotected sex is the leading factor and know which symptoms to look for, they have a greater sense of when there is an urgency for testing. In addition, many do not know about the free STD testing centers that offer free and reduced rates for those who qualify. These are places where people can go for private and confidential services to get results and preserve their sexual health.
Current programs aimed at educating the public about sexual health awareness are underway. Sexual health ed is now mandatory in public education curriculum and is offered just prior to when kids start experimenting with sex. They learn about how to prevent pregnancy and STDs in addition to resources for getting HIV or Herpes testing. Pregnant women are routinely screened for STDs before their babies are born. While this is reaching some of the at risk groups, it isn’t covering everyone. Literature is freely distributed by women’s organizations and health clinics in the area, but the data shows that more still needs to be done.
The formula for determining STD risk involves looking at current data about who is testing positive, how many in each age class, ethnicity, financial class, region and gender. The numbers are averaged and risk is figured according to the highest frequency among groups. We can tell from a brief look at the annual reports that there are distinct patterns among different groups for particular STDs. When the information is compared with the same type of data from the past 10 years the patterns become clear and are consistent.
Having unprotected sex with a partner whose monogamy cannot be verified is the greatest risk factor that must be met before the rest come into play. People age 20 to 24 have the highest numbers with regard to age. Blacks, Hispanics and Whites have the highest rates in this order, women have double the incidences of Chlamydia as men, and men are more frequently diagnosed with Gonorrhea and Syphilis.
STD testing is vital
Anyone who is at risk for an STD should get tested as soon as possible. The symptoms of some types do not always show up right away so you could be infected and not know it. The reasons that you should get this done ASAP are that your health is at stake, the health of your partner(s) could be affected and testing is easy to order. Taking a mere 15 to 20 minutes to visit a local lab is all you’ll need to do to finish the process. The staff keeps your information private and friendly technicians will answer questions if you have them.