Home to Busch Gardens and the fabulous Ybor City neighborhood Tampa, Florida is also experiencing a rise in reported cases of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis B, C, Herpes, Syphilis and HIV, along with a shortage of STD clinics. While there are free STD testing centers in Tampa, FL the long lines have many residents choosing to put off regular health screenings. Now you can schedule private STD testing with one simple phone call and only spend 15 to 20 minutes at a local lab, which still gives you plenty of time to experience an African Safari and even catch the opening kickoff at a Buccaneers football game.
Recently released statistics show that the city of Tampa is experiencing an alarming increase in the number of reported STDs. From 1990 to 2011 the number of new diagnoses for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis went from under 600 per 100,000 residents to almost 800 reported cases. While this alone is cause for alarm, it should be noted that these statistics do not include Tampa residents who tested positive for any of the other sexually transmitted diseases.
While health officials were not surprised at the high rate of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea infections, the dramatic increase in Syphilis cases was unexpected. With a 65 percent rise in first and secondary Syphilis diagnose between 2011 and 2012, Tampa officials agree that there is cause for alarm. Adding to the health risk is the fact that an estimated 40 percent of those who tested positive for Syphilis are also infected with HIV.
Other statistics concerning the STD rates for Tampa are just as concerning, and only help to emphasize the importance of regular testing.
- The number of Chlamydia cases almost doubled in Tampa and surrounding Hillsborough County between 2003 and 2012.
- In 2012 there were over 7,100 residents affected with Chlamydia.
- While Gonorrhea diagnose are slowly increasing statewide, Tampa and Hillsborough County are responsible for the majority of the new cases reported.
- 2008 statistics show that over 70 percent of Chlamydia infections were in women ages 15-24.
- Almost 50 percent of the diagnosed cases of Chlamydia were in young African American women.
As the number of sexually transmitted diseases continue to rise in Tampa and Hillsborough county, some health officials are valiantly trying to implement sexual education classes in the city’s public school system. Unfortunately their efforts are being met with resistance from city leaders, and there is currently only sex education programs in the universities and colleges. Residents can also take advantage of the neighborhood centers which also offer some information on the importance of having safe sex.
The number of young teenage women who are testing positive for Chlamydia and other STDs seems to show that the current abstinence only program is not working. While there are some students who are able to abide by the guidelines in the abstinence contract, it is not enough to protect teenagers from the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases.
Sex education programs not only provide students with the knowledge they need to prevent the spread of STDs during intercourse, it also teaches them about the importance of regular testing. Not all STDs are contracted during sex, some can be spread through simple contact. The Herpes virus can be easily spread among high school students, and there are often not any symptoms until it is too late. Regular Herpes testing in Tampa can prevent its spread, and even help prevent embarrassing flare ups.
It is also important to get regular HIV testing in Tampa, especially considering it is not uncommon for those infected not to show any signs of the deadly disease until it has turned into full blown AIDS.
Demographics will always play a role in the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and this is true in Tampa. The city’s large Cuban population is predominately Catholic which discourages discussions about sex, and tries to promote abstinence until marriage. This makes it extremely difficult for health care officials to explain the dangers of not being tested regularly for any of the common STDS, even when someone is not sexually active.
Income also plays a role in the spread of sexually transmitted disease, with many families simply not being able to afford regular STD testing. Adding to this problem is a shortage of clinics, and the threat of many centers losing their funding.
Other factors contributing to Tampa and Hillsborough County’s high STD rate is a language barrier between health care workers and residents, along with a severe drug and alcohol problem in some older neighborhoods. Statistics already show that high risk behavior is a major contributing factor to the spread of STDs, which includes intravenous drug use and shared needles.
Without sexual education problems in the city schools experts expect these numbers to continue to rise, especially when teens and young adults do not understand the risks associated with unprotected sex. Stereotypes regarding testing and the simple belief that a STD will “never happen to me”, is also contributing to the steady rise in the number of sexually transmitted diseases reported in Tampa each year.
Tampa has everything from sun and sand to roller coasters and professional football, along with an extremely high rate of sexually transmitted diseases. This high rate of STDs makes it even more important to get tested regularly, but the long lines and risk of running into friends and family at the clinics has many residents looking for a different option. Now you can schedule confidential STD testing with one phone call and only spend 20 minutes in a local lab, without the fear of potentially running into someone you know. It only takes a few minutes to take care of your sexual health, which still leaves you with plenty of time to enjoy the warm and sunny Tampa weather.