It has become impossible for residents of this suburban community to ignore the fact that STD rates are rising. Recent statistics released by the Salt Lake County Health Department and CDC indicate that the percentage of residents that test positive for a sexually transmitted disease is rising, and has been for the past twenty years.
Even though the state is ranked 38th in the nation for its STD rates, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a problem. According to the statistics the state and county are seeing increases in the infection rate of some sexually transmitted diseases that are well above national averages. In just five years the number of Gonorrhea incidents has risen from 200 a year up to over 1,000 reported in a 12 month period. During the first four months of 2016 Gonorrhea incidents are already up by 40 percent compared to the same time in 2015.
The statistics also show that it is not just Gonorrhea rates that are increasing, but also those for Chlamydia, infectious Syphilis and HIV/AIDS. Currently the county has the highest Chlamydia rate in the state, and the same is also true regarding percentages for Gonorrhea and Syphilis. Local health officials are worried that these rates will continue to increase, unless everyone recognizes the importance of regular STI testing.
Some of the statistics that highlight the suburban city’s growing STD problem include,
- In the 12 month period between 2014 and 2015 the number of Gonorrhea incidents rose by 40 percent.
- Men between the ages of 18 to 22 are among those with the greatest risk of contracting Gonorrhea.
- Women account for the majority of Chlamydia, HPV and genital Herpes incidents according to county health statistics.
Even though the number of sexually transmitted diseases reported each year is rising faster than that for the rest of the country, state lawmakers still vetoed a recent bill that would have called for public school districts to revise the material they teach students.
Instead of voting to include medically accurate and comprehensive information in the public schools’ sex education programs, the state congress decided to keep the current abstinence based curriculum. This decision has the full support of the state’s large conservative party, even though the majority of parents are requesting a change in the state’s requirements. Since the current sex education program will not be updated, students still are not getting the information they need to protect themselves from STDs.
The rapidly rising teen pregnancy and STD rates are due to a lack of education. It is not uncommon for students to graduate without understanding all of the risks and responsibilities that come with being sexually active. Since contraceptives are not discussed some graduating teens do not even know how to properly use a condom, and the subject of regular STD testing is never covered.
This means that teens and young adults do not know that regular HIV testing in Sandy is the only way to detect the potentially deadly disease. They also do not know that regular Herpes testing in Sandy could finally stop the spread of the virus through area high schools. This lack of information is also putting older residents at risk since STDs can be passed through a variety of methods.
There are several factors responsible for the city’s rising STD rates. It is part of the Salt Lake City metro area, and this means that the statistics are for a larger vicinity. While this is causing the STD rates to appear higher than they would be if the statistics were just for the suburb, they still indicate that there is a problem.
One of the main reasons STD rates are rising is due to the lack of available information. Conservatives believe that since the overall rates are below national averages that abstinence only based sex education classes are more than enough, what they are not taking into account is the fact that the number of new infections reported each year is rising at a rate faster than the rest of the country. If this is allowed to continue health officials worry that the city could have STD rates that are higher than the national averages.
The growing popularity of dating apps is also adding to the problem, especially since it is now easier than ever for adults and teens to meet someone solely for the purpose of engaging in a “one night stand”. Since most residents aren’t aware of the importance of regular STD testing, it is easy for a sexually transmitted disease to be spread without either partner even realizing it.
While a shopping trip to the Southtowne Mall or a day hiking through the Wasatch Mountains is often more enjoyable than a visit to a neighborhood STI clinic, it is still important for residents to take a few minutes and take care of their sexual health. It is understandable if you don’t want to spend the day in a crowded clinic waiting room and now you don’t have to. You can easily schedule confidential STD testing with one simple phone call and only spend a few minutes at a nearby lab. This way you can take care of your sexual health and still have plenty of time to enjoy your day in this great suburb.