Perhaps because of the demographic that mainly makes up the population, St. John County has some of the lowest levels of HIV cases in the state. However, cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia in St. John are higher than in other parts of Florida.
For every 100,000 people in St. Johns County, 158 of them have been diagnosed with HIV. In the case of gonorrhea, 21 out of every 100,000 people in St. Johns County have it. 217 out of 100,000 people in the county have chlamydia and only one has what is referred to as early latent syphilis.
Outpatient clinics in St. Augustine see many people coming in for STD testing. These clinics test for the presence of chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis, Hepatitis A and B and HIV. The HIV tests offered are oral and blood tests.
The eight most common types of STDs are the ones tested at facilities throughout the city. Test results are excluded from an individual’s medical records to ensure the utmost privacy for them, as it is understood that this is a very sensitive subject. Alternately individuals can choose to have their STD test results listed in their medical records if they wish. The STD testing performed there is always done accurately and confidentially. STD testing is taken very seriously throughout the city. The city urges its residents to get tested if they may be at risk.
Private testing for herpes and HIV is often done in this city. Results are given on the same day and support and education is provided to anyone who receives a positive diagnosis. At sexual health centers throughout the city, children and teens can learn about STDs in an environment where everything is kept confidential and everyone’s privacy and dignity is respected.
Children 12 and older can participate in either group or individual sessions in which they learn about sexual health. With written consent from the parents, children can obtain lessons on STDs in general and HIV and AIDS specifically.
The general consensus is that more education on STDS needs to be given of younger residents of the city. One of the reasons for this is due to the fact that over half the STD cases in the area were reported in people younger than 25 years of age.
When it comes to chlamydia, 64% of the people affected with it are anywhere from 15 to 24 years old. This shows that the city needs to step up its efforts to educate young people on the dangers of STDs and how to avoid contracting them. STD education is not emphasized as much in St. Augustine as it is in other cities, possibly because it is smaller than many cities. Specifically, HIV and herpes are two STDs that more residents of the city need to get tested for in the future.
STDs are mainly found in the population of younger people who have not been properly educated. This is a problem throughout the city and one that is not addressed as much as it could or should be.
At nearby Florida State University the cases of STDs are high. In 2013 alone, 228 students were diagnosed with chlamydia. Gonorrhea outbreaks are also a huge problem at the University. The majority of STD cases are diagnosed in college students, either on or off campus.
While the Florida Department of Health offers educational opportunities concerning the prevention and treatment of STDs not enough young people in the city are committed to seeking out the education that could help save their lives.
STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea are seen much more in St. Johns County than HIV and AIDS are. In 2005, the average number of reported cases of HIV was 17, while the average number of reported cases of full-blown AIDS was the same.
As one of the counties in Florida with a lower percentage of those suffering from STDs than others St. Johns still reported a growing number of HIV diagnoses from 1998 to 2004. Between 1998 and 2000 there were 92 cases reported and this number went up to 114 from 2000 to 2002. From 2002 to 2004 the number of HIV diagnoses rose to 130. Since then the numbers have continued to rise throughout the county, making STDs an ongoing problem in the city.
It is safe to say that even though residents of the city have access to confidential STD testing it is not being used as much as it should be. Even though STDs are lower there than in other parts of Florida they should still be tested for. College students in the area can always obtain STD tests at their campus health centers. However, since the majority of those residing in the city are older it is important to offer accessible STD testing at clinics in and around the city. Obtaining these tests can often be done on a walk in basis and some clinics even stay open evenings, weekends and holidays, to ensure there is always a place to get tested. This gives locals’ confidence in knowing that their community is there to support them when they need it.