According to the recent statistics released by the CDC and San Diego County Department of Health, this small city is seeing a surge in its STD rates. Over the past twenty years the number of sexually transmitted infections reported in the county has been rising at a rate that alarms many health officials.
Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis rates are all rising, along with the number of new HIV cases reported each year. Statistics also show that it is no longer just teens and young adults that are at risk, but older residents are testing positive for a sexually transmitted disease more often. This is especially true concerning HIV/AIDS and Syphilis rates among residents over the age of 24.
Rates for Chlamydia and Syphilis are currently above state averages, with the sharpest increases occurring from 2013 to 2015. Syphilis incidents in men saw the largest increase, along with the number of males who tested positive for Gonorrhea. While Gonorrhea rates in men are still below state averages, health experts expect this to change in the next two to three years.
Statistics also indicate that African American and Hispanic residents are more than twice as likely to contract a sexually transmitted disease, especially Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. When it comes to Syphilis all residents are at risk, especially males ages 25 to 44. Some of the other statistics that highlight the growing STD epidemic include,
- Women ages 20 to 24 present the greatest risk for contracting Chlamydia.
- In 2015 Gonorrhea incidents were twice as likely to occur in men as women.
- Men 25 to 44 years old are three times more likely to test positive for Syphilis than males in other age brackets.
In response to the rising STD and teen pregnancy rates the state passed a bill that requires all public school districts to provide medically accurate and comprehensive information in their sex education programs. While parents can “opt” their child out of these classes, health officials are hopeful that the majority of students will participate in the new program.
Abstinence will still be briefly covered and students will be taught that it is better to wait to engage in sexual activity until they are older, but they will also learn about the risks and responsibilities that come with being sexually active. This includes learning about all of the ways that STDs can be spread, along with the importance of being tested for the infectious diseases on a regular basis.
Students will also learn about the importance of always using protection if they do decide to become sexually active. Condoms and other types of contraceptives will be discussed, and local officials are hopeful that this will help to lower the abnormally high teen pregnancy rate. Since students will learn that not all STDs are spread through sexual activity, local and county leaders hope that more residents will understand how important regular HIV testing in San Marcos is for their continued good health.
Regular Herpes testing in San Marcos will also be encouraged, and this simple procedure could help stop the spread of the virus through area high schools. While it is too soon to tell if the new sex education programs are having a positive effect on the STD rates in the area, the number of teen pregnancies reported in the first half of 2016 has started to decrease.
There are several factors being blamed for the rising STD rates in the city and county, though many of these are being addressed. The addition of comprehensive and medically accurate sex education programs is one positive step, along with the fact that the county does offer free STD testing for lower income residents. This was started in response to the rising infection rates, along with the fact that testing is no longer covered under Medicaid.
Even though this is a start towards addressing the various reasons why STD rates are rising, it doesn’t resolve all of the problems. Language barriers are making it difficult for health officials to reach everyone in the community, and this means that a large percentage of residents still do not understand the importance of regular testing.
Thanks to advances in health care adults are staying sexually active longer, and many of the area’s older residents are not familiar with the risks that are often associated with their behavior. Some also mistakenly believe that an STD could never happen to them. Until these and other factors are resolved the STD rates for the city are expected to continue to rise.
Before you head off for a day of fishing and boating on Lake San Marcos, it is important to take a few minutes to think about your sexual health. The number of STDs reported each year is rising, and it has never been so important for everyone to be tested on a regular basis. It is understandable if you want to avoid the long lines at the STI clinics, and now you can. Simply by making one quick phone call you can schedule confidential STD testing and only spend a few minutes at a local lab. This way you can take care of your sexual health, and still have plenty of time to enjoy your day.