The village of San Buenaventura is home to fabulous beaches and a growing number of residents who are positive for a STD. This is not a new trend, according to statistics, but one that has been occurring over the last twenty years.
While the village does share the same data with surrounding Ventura County, this does not explain the high number of sexually transmitted diseases reported each year. Some hopeful residents point out that Chlamydia and Gonorrhea seem to be holding steady, the same is not true for Syphilis. Between 2005 and 2014 the number of men who tested positive for primary and secondary Syphilis rose an estimated 20 percent. To put this in perspective this means that in 10 years the number of men who contracted Syphilis doubled.
Chlamydia rates in women are still high, especially in minorities. The city is seeing an improvement in Gonorrhea rates in women, but this is balanced out by the growing number of men who contract this venereal disease each year. Some of the other statistics residents should be concerned about include,
- In 2014 statistics showed that African American men between the ages of 25 to 39 were almost twice as likely to contract Syphilis as Caucasians.
- Between 2005 and 2014 Gonorrhea rates in men rose to a rate of 45 percent which is more than three times as high as that for women.
- The majority of Chlamydia cases in 2014 were reported in women between the ages of 20 to 24.
- Surprisingly the Chlamydia rates for African American males and females were almost the same in 2014.
In response to the out of control rate of sexually transmitted infections reported annually across the state, all public schools are now required to offer sex education classes to students in grades 7 through 12. Already some areas are seeing a difference, and the classes have only been mandatory for a few months.
Now that sexual education classes are part of the curriculum students and even their parents can get the information they need to protect themselves. Not only do these classes include current information on the various ways venereal diseases can be spread, they also cover the use of contraceptives and how they can protect themselves.
It should be made clear that the state and city are still advocating for abstinence, they simply know that this is not enough to stop STDs from spreading. It is possible to contract a venereal disease, even if you are not sexually active. The new classes also discuss the importance of regular testing, and how it should be a standard part of your health care routine. This includes regular Herpes testing in Lowell, especially for high school students since this is where the virus is most common. Regular HIV testing in Lowell is important for everyone, regardless of age or sexual habits.
The information released by the CDC indicates that demographics play a role in STD rates, and this is obvious by the high number of teens and young adults who test positive each year. City leaders are hopeful that the new education classes will start lowering these numbers, once everyone understands how these diseases are spread. Until then the best way to protect yourself and loved ones is to get tested on a regular basis.
The city’s small size is also affecting STD rates. Since it has a smaller tax base there is not a lot of money for funding health care, which means many residents are not able to afford regular testing. There is also a lack of health facilities, even in the wealthier neighborhoods. With very few clinics in walking distance many residents cannot get the health care they need, and even more disturbing some may already be infected with a sexually transmitted disease and not even realize it.
A large number of migrant workers also pass frequently through the area, and many of them have never been tested for a STD. This means that not only do they pose a risk to their fellow workers, but also to the residents of the small city. Other demographic factors include stereotypes and myths, regarding how STDs are spread and who can contract a disease. Hopefully the new sexual education programs will help dispel any misinformation that might be putting residents’ health at risk. Until then regular testing is still the best way to prevent sexually transmitted infections from spreading around town.
It’s easy to forget about taking care of your health when all you want to do is head to the beach, but this can be a mistake. Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise, and even though steps are being taken you still need to get tested by a health care professional. It is understandable that you don’t want to be stuck inside a clinic, and now you don’t have to be since you can schedule confidential STD testing. This way you can still take care of your sexual health by spending a few minutes at a lab, and then you can get back to enjoying the rest of your day.