According to recent statistics released by the CDC and Santa Barbara County Health Department the number of STD incidents reported each year is rising, and has been for the past two decades. From 2013 to 2015 Gonorrhea rates almost tripled, and Chlamydia infections rose by 22.6 percent. What is most alarming to health officials is the fact that during this three year period Syphilis incidents doubled.
The statistics also show that it is not just teens that are contracting these STDs, but adults 20 to 24 years old are actually testing positive for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea more often than other age groups. Older men ages 25 to 29 are at an increased risk for contracting Syphilis. The same is also true regarding new HIV diagnoses.
African Americans and Hispanics are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with a STD than other ethnicities. Statistics do show that Caucasian males are twice as likely to contract Gonorrhea or Syphilis than women. When it comes to Chlamydia women ages 18 to 24 are among those with the highest risk, and in 2015 accounted for over 68 percent of the cases reported that year.
With the number of STIs reported each year growing at an alarming rate it is even more important than ever for residents of all ages to be tested on a regular basis. Some of the other statistics that highlight the growing problem in the city and county include,
- 90 percent of the primary and secondary Syphilis incidents reported in 2015 occurred in men.
- Over 48 percent of the Chlamydia incidents in 2015 were reported in women ages 20 to 24.
- From 2013 to 2015 the Gonorrhea rates almost tripled and over 60 percent of the cases reported occurred in men.
Recently state lawmakers passed a bill that now requires all public school systems to provide students grades 7 through 12 with medically accurate and relevant information concerning sexual activity and STDs. By the time students graduate from high school the goal of the new bill is to ensure that they know the risks of STDs and how to protect themselves if they do decide to become sexually active.
Even though not all parents and educators approve of the new requirements for schools’ sex education programs, everyone agrees that something needs to be done about the area’s high STD rates. With teen pregnancy rates also reaching all-time highs, many of the new policy’s supporters are hopeful that when students learn the importance and benefits of using contraceptives these percentages will also start to drop.
Along with learning how important it is to always use protection during sexual activity, students will also discuss all of the ways STDs can be spread. This alone can be critical in helping to slow down the spread of these diseases. Regular Herpes testing in Santa Barbara will also be covered, and school administrators are hopeful that this will help slow the spread of the virus. Students will also learn how important regular HIV testing in Santa Barbara is, even if they are not sexually active.
Health officials believe that one of the main contributing factors to the rapidly rising STD rates is technology. Dating websites and apps have made it even easier for teens and adults to meet someone for the sole purpose of engaging in sexual activity, and this type of risky behavior is putting their health at risk.
Very seldom is any thought given to the possibility that their partner might already have a STD, especially if they are only planning on being together for one evening. The new sex education curriculum currently being implemented in the public school districts is addressing this issue, but until everyone realizes that their behavior is putting their sexual health at risk it will continue to be a problem.
The area is also bringing in a lot of new residents and visitors looking to spend time in the nearby mountains and enjoy the city’s beaches. While this added revenue is good for the city’s economy, it is also contributing to the rising STD rates. Many of the annual tourists have never been tested for a sexually transmitted disease, and this means that they might have contracted one without even realizing it. The same is often true for new residents moving into the city.
Like the rest of the state the city’s community health centers were affected by the budget cuts, and this has resulted in a shortage of STI testing facilities. Lower income families are also finding it more difficult to afford regular testing since it is no longer covered by Medicaid. Until these problems are resolved residents can expect to see the city’s STD rates continue to rise.
It is important that you take a few minutes to think about your sexual health before you head off for a day at the beach or historic Stearns Wharf. The number of sexually transmitted diseases reported each year is rising, and this means that you need to think about getting tested. It is understandable if you don’t want to spend the day waiting in a long line, and now you don’t have to if you call to schedule confidential STD testing. It only takes a few minutes at a local lab so you have plenty of time to even explore the expansive Santa Barbara Zoo.