In recent years state and local leaders have started paying closer attention to the STD statistics released by the CDC, and they have noticed an alarming trend. For the past twenty years the number of residents who test positive for a sexually transmitted disease has been steadily rising, and this includes primary and secondary Syphilis. This is particularly alarming to health officials in Olmsted County who are already dealing with high rates of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea.
With an estimated population of 200,000 and rates for some STDs above 300 percent, it is clear that there is a problem in Rochester and surrounding Olmsted County.
Some city leaders note that Gonorrhea rates are dropping in women, but health officials are quick to point out that they are increasing in men. Chlamydia rates in women between the ages of 20 to 24 are also rising and while the county does not have the highest percentage of Syphilis incidents these are likely to change in the next few years.
The only way to effectively stop the spread of sexually transmitted infections and protect residents is for everyone to realize how important it is to be tested regularly. Some of the statistics that highlight the need for regular STD testing include,
- In 2014 the Chlamydia rate for the county was at 300+ percent per 100,000 residents.
- Across the state Chlamydia rates have been steadily rising in women and men, almost doubling in females between 2004 and 2014.
- Gonorrhea incidents in women have dropped almost 20 percent between 2012 and 2014, and almost tripled in men in the same period.
- Men and women ages 20 to 24 are twice as likely to contract Gonorrhea, and these percentages are rising.
In an effort to stop the spread of STDs state lawmakers passed a bill in 2008 that requires all public schools to teach medically accurate information in its sexual education classes. The bill also states that the classes must present abstinence as the best method of protection, and the information included also must be age appropriate and approved by parents.
This is a start towards helping teens and young adults receive the information they need to protect themselves from many of the sexually transmitted diseases, but it is still not enough to prevent or slow down the spread of STDs. School administrators estimate that at least 50 percent of graduating teens are already sexually active, and the statistics show that young men and women between the ages of 17 to 24 have the highest rate of infection.
Studies also indicate that school districts that do no focus on abstinence as the best method of prevention have lower STD rates overall. This also includes a fewer Herpes incidents which are almost always high in public and private school systems.
Many health officials want to introduce the necessity of regular Herpes testing in Rochester as part of information included in the sexual education classes. Regular HIV testing in Rochester is also critical information students and their parents need to have, especially considering it is still the only way to detect the potentially deadly diseases before symptoms start to appear.
The demographical makeup of the small city of Rochester is mainly Caucasian, who have strong conservative beliefs. While this is common in suburban areas where many of the resources of the “big city” are missing, this does not help the STD rate. Instead the conservative community is still promoting abstinence even though studies around the country have indicated that this is not an effective method at preventing the spread of STDs, and it does little to discourage students from becoming sexually active before marriage.
The staunchly conservative community has actually made it difficult for students and young adults to get the advice or help they need even if they think they might be infected with a sexually transmitted disease. Along with making it difficult to find someone to talk to about these issues, some church leaders are lobbying to end any type of sexual education in the classroom.
The small suburban city also lacks many of the resources that can be found in more populated areas, and this is also having a negative impact of STD rates. The shortage of community health centers has resulted in extremely long lines, along with a fear of being spotted and judged by friends and family. Until these and other problems are addressed the small city can expect to continue to see its STD rates rise each year.
Before you spend the day on Silver Lake or explore the zoo and nearby park it is important that you make time to consider the state of your sexual health. STDs are on the rise in Rochester, and everyone that lives in the area is at risk. If you don’t want to risk running into someone you know at a health center you can schedule confidential STD testing with just a phone call. This way you only have to be at the lab for less than a half hour, and you can still catch the matinee performance at the Chateau Theatre.