Recently released statistics are indicating that Spokane city and county are seeing a rise in the number of sexually transmitted infections and that this is been occurring over the last twenty years.
The recent data from the health department has city officials worried that they might be facing a STI epidemic. Not only are the number of reported cases of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea on the rise, but HIV and Syphilis incidents are also increasing in frequency. While health officials were not surprised to learn that sexually transmitted disease rates are increasing, they were startled to see how quickly the number of new cases is growing.
Statistics also show that it is not just college students and young adults who are at risk, but teens and older residents also have a higher chance of contracting a sexually transmitted infection during their lifetime. These statistics alone make it vital for residents to understand how important it is to get tested regularly for STDs.
Some of the statistics that have health officials concerned include;
- In 2012 the city and county rate for Chlamydia rose to 404.3 percent compared to the state’s 360.8 percent per 100,000 residents.
- 1993 saw a Chlamydia incident rate slightly over 500 cases compared to an estimated 1,700+ in 2012.
- Gonorrhea cases for women ages 15-19 were estimated at 200 in 2012 compared to men in the same age bracket with 100 incidents per 100,000 residents.
- While other STDs are on the rise Herpes is decreasing slightly to an estimated 175 cases per 100,000 residents in 2012 thanks in part to focused education on how it is spread.
The best way to prevent the spread of STDs is to educate students and parents about the dangers associated with sexually transmittable diseases, and while Spokane does have a program in place in its school system it is not enough to slow the area’s skyrocketing rates.
STDs are rising in the city and county at an alarming rate, and the lack of a comprehensive sexual education program is contributing to the problem. Since individual school districts can pick and choose what is to be taught in the classroom, many students never receive important information regarding the spread of infectious diseases.
A recent survey conducted by the county education officials found that an estimated 30 percent of the schools in the area do not teach students about using contraception, while 23 percent don’t discuss homosexuality. Without a comprehensive sexual education program in place in the public school systems parents and students will not understand how important it is to get tested for STDs on a regular basis.
Regular Herpes testing in Spokane has helped lower the rate of this highly contagious virus in the county, though the same is not true for the other STDs. Regular HIV testing in Spokane is also critical, especially considering the lack of available information regarding the spread of this potentially deadly disease.
Demographics will always be key in a city’s STI percentages and this is certainly true of Spokane. While cultural and monetary factors will affect the number of sexually transmitted infections reported, the relaxed culture in the area is also contributing to the spread of sexually transmittable diseases. A general feeling that STDs will never happen to them has led many residents to mistakenly believe that regular STI screening is not important. As long as this belief persists, the city can expect its infectious disease rates to continue to rise.
Conservative values and beliefs are also contributing to the growing number of residents who test positive for a transmittable disease. The strong belief in abstinence until marriage might help lower the number of teen pregnancies, but it does little to curb the spread of transmittable diseases. These strong beliefs can also make it difficult for teens and young adults to discuss their sexual activities with adults.
A lack of comprehensive education programs will always affect STI percentages and with many schools not discussing the use of contraceptives students often do not understand the dangers and risks associated with engaging in unprotected sex. This is also putting older residents at risk as well.
Lower income families often find it difficult to afford regular STI testing, and many neighborhoods lack community health centers. Without a convenient place to go for regular testing, many residents simply put off this important step in taking care of your sexual health.
Before you spend the day strolling through Manito Park and Botanical Gardens or shopping in one of the local boutiques it is important to take a few minutes and take care of your sexual health. Regular testing for STIs is important for your continued good health and it could potentially help save your life. While there are a few community health centers in the city, you can easily avoid the long lines and potential embarrassment of running into a familiar face with one quick and easy phone call. With one call you can schedule confidential STD testing and only spend 20 minutes or so at the local lab, which still gives you plenty of time to catch a beautiful sunset over the Spokane Falls.