While Lackawanna County is relatively clean compared to other heavily infected areas of the state, there are still STDs prevalent in the community. HIV, early latent syphilis, and gonorrhea have all been observed in residents of the community over the past couple of years.
An alarming statistic is that only around 30 percent of county residents have ever been tested for HIV. One of the most common warning signs of STD outbreaks is low testing rates. It’s paramount that the community takes steps to ensure that people are practicing safe sex. The incident rates for the most common STD are as follows:
- Early Latent Syphilis – 2.8 per 100,000 people
- Gonorrhea – 33.6 per 100,000 people
- HIV – 135.4 per 100,000 people
While these numbers aren’t particularly high, they represent incidents that are significant enough to warrant concern. Without proper testing, these numbers can rapidly grow as the diseases spread through the population.
Education about safe sex practices can go a long way, but testing is a necessary component of keeping any community disease free. Without adequate testing, it’s impossible to control potential outbreaks of sexually transmitted diseases. If more people become aware of their own STD status, it can create a culture of responsibility that will greatly benefit the sexual health of residents in the area. Adolescents and young adults are often shy to seek information about testing. You can help combat the stigma by being proactive about sexual health and STD clinics. Don’t hesitate!
Women, specifically younger women between the ages of 15-24, are significantly more likely to be at-risk for STDs in the region. As the following data shows, cases rates in this age group are much higher than they are across other age demographics.
Without proper education, it’s easy for this problem to spiral out of control. Many public schools in the region are increasing their efforts to expand sexual education programs. Through educational seminars, packets, and presentations, students are better able to understand the risks of unsafe sex and becoming sexually active. If students have the tools to mitigate those risks, rates of disease transmission will continue to fall.
The other area of concern is the upward trajectory of the reported STDs. While the increase is not severe, any amount is enough to warrant immediate action. Lackawanna residents face a significant obstacle in that sexual education is not required under Pennsylvania law. It’s up to community members to put pressure on school boards to provide appropriate sexual education, particularly among High School students.
Area residents, especially young adults, should be aware of the many clinics in the area that offer assistance to those seeking to know the status of their sexual health. These clinics provide quick, clean, and confidential HIV testing and herpes testing. These tests are no different than other blood tests you would take during a regular visit to the doctor. The process is streamlined and absolutely private. There’s no need to worry, clinicians are skilled at ensuring they provide safe and reliable care to area residents.
While young people as a whole are significantly more at-risk for STD related complications, young African-American women are the most likely to contract STDs. African-Americans are also significantly more likely to be below the poverty line. As a result, they are much less likely to have access to clinics or sexual health testing information. The transmission rates of HIV reflect this reality.
Around 22 percent of residents are at or below the poverty line, according to census data. These people struggle constantly in the effort to assess their sexual health due to poor access to clinics. Consult our list of area clinics to see if there is a free testing location that is near your home. On a positive note, STDs do not rank among the leading causes of death for young residents of the county. This trend will continue as long as education and testing efforts spread throughout the region. Make an effort to educate members of at-risk demographics about the importance of regular STD testing.
Without a concerted effort from members of at-risk communities, they will continue to struggle relative to the rest of the population. Consider passing along the information that is listed on our website to community members you know that could be struggling with sexual health issues. If your demographic is most at risk, it is your personal responsibility to ensure that you are practicing safe sex.
In conclusion, there are a variety of factors that contribute to the overall sexual health of a community. Some of the most important factors are communication and access to information and treatment centers. This website lists a variety of free clinics where you can get yourself tested. Even if you suspect you are clean, it never hurts to get yourself tested just in case.
Don’t hesitate to seek out additional information about STD treatment if you do receive a positive test result. Remember that these clinics have your best interest in mind and will never share your personal information. The health care professionals strive to provide a comfortable environment where you can get safely tested. Happy testing!