Statistics show that for at least the past ten years, Wicomico County, home of Salisbury, ranks as one of the counties with the highest rates of STDs in the state. In 2015, it has the fourth highest incidence of Chlamydia and was ranked third as the county with the most cases of Gonorrhea. Cases of Syphilis are particularly low countywide, but it is still among the top together with Prince George’s, Baltimore and Somerset counties.
The high rate of STD cases in Wicomico County has been going on for years. In 2006, an estimated 566 people per 100,000 residents were diagnosed with Chlamydia, making it the most communicable disease in the county, even exceeding the state and national average rates. Gonorrhea placed second with approximately 246 reported cases in 100,000 people. Some recent statistics show that Wicomico County’s STD problem still prevails even after 10 years.
- In 2015, the rate of Chlamydia cases went down from 566 to 489 per 100,000 people. Gonorrhea cases also decreased from 246 cases in 2006 to just 168 in 2015
- The average rate of STD cases in Wicomico County remains higher than the national and state average rates
- The rate of new HIV diagnoses in 2015 also remained consistent with 24 to 42 new reported cases in every 100,000 people in the 15 to 24 age bracket
- Statistics show that about 220 out of 100,000 living residents of Wicomico County were living with HIV in 2013, one of the highest rates among counties in the Eastern Shore
The stubborn rate of STDs in the county has prompted local health officials to take unprecedented steps, but it may take a while to see the effects of newly launched programs and services. Regularly going for STD tests not only helps inform concerned residents on their infection status, but also helps detect early STD symptoms and prevents full-blown infections.
Although Wicomico County has consistently seen high rates of STD cases since the early 2000s, the local government just started creating programs and implementing preventive measures in 2014. The county has put together a task force responsible in disseminating STD-related information in communities mainly affected by ST infection.
Age-appropriate sex education programs for the youth have long been communicated with adolescents and teenagers alike; however, these programs used to focus on prevention methods instead of abstinence, which is the best way to avoid contracting an STD.
New and timely awareness programs are being drafted, and colleges, including the Salisbury University, offer STD screening for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea to students at a minimal fee. Syphilis and HIV testing, however, are not always available at the university’s Student Health Services, leaving students with only the Wicomico County Health Department as their other known option for a low-cost or free STD test, such as Herpes testing.
The lack of information about STD from the local government and the education sector is one of the reasons for the unchanging rate of sexually transmitted infections countywide. Just a few years ago, most young people believed that ST infections, such as Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HIV and Herpes are symptomatic. On the contrary, people infected with HIV may not know that they are infected until the disease progresses into a potentially terminal disease that is AIDS. Chlamydia is also known as a silent infection and lacks physical symptoms.
Getting regular STD testing in Salisbury STD clinics prevents the occurrence of major health problems. Early detection of an ST infection also helps in thwarting the spread of the disease, giving you enough opportunity to stay safe and protect others.
The prevalence of STD cases throughout the county is still being debated upon. One of the factors health officials are looking into is the high concentration of young people in the city. As a college town, it enjoys a large influx of local and foreign students seeking top-notch education. Although Salisbury ranks as one of the cities with high incidences of HIV and other STDs in the county, there is no published research or statistics to back it up, making it harder to disseminate accurate and factual information to high school and college students.
Another speculation is the proximity of the city to the Eastern Correctional Institution. Reports stated that cases of STD are high among inmates, and many of them live and have families or partners in the city. Voluntary STD testing is offered in prisons, but according to a study by the National Institutes of Health, only 50 percent of inmates readily agree to STD tests. The study attributed it to inadequate knowledge on ST infections prior to incarceration. It is also the first stop for inmates upon release, and the chances of them engaging in unprotected sex is particularly high.
The local health department’s lack of trend data up to this day greatly hinders the government’s objective of reducing the cases of STD in the city. Further studies are needed to accurately understand the prevalence of some ST infections within the city and throughout Wicomico County.
The self-proclaimed Comfortable Side of Coastal has been active in fighting STDs and providing STD-related assistance to the community. These, however, have been limited to giving out vouchers for free STD testing, conducting seminars in residence halls and helping out athletes during health screenings. It still has a long way to go in terms of driving out the STD epidemic that has been plaguing the city and the whole county for over ten years.
Private STD clinics offer a private and reliable way to attain better sexual health. A simple phone call is all you need to do to schedule a confidential STD testing. It only takes approximately 20 minutes to perform the test and your results are handled with utmost confidentiality.