The city in your state ranks as the most sexually diseased city in the nation. Montgomery, Alabama ranks higher than larger cities such as Philadelphia, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and New York. Statewide the numbers are not much better with the numbers coming from a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- For gonorrhea, the state is ranked second
- For chlamydia, the state is ranked third
- For primary and secondary syphilis, the rank is twenty-third
The report for chlamydia cases is 611 cases per 100,000, or 29,464. The report for gonorrhea cases is 173.7 cases per 100,000 reported, or 8,377. For primary and secondary syphilis, the number of cases is 183 cases, or 3.8 cases per 100,000.
In Mobile County, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health, you have the highest HIV rate in the state based on population. More than 3,200 people in Mobile County have been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS.
As for the Montgomery numbers, the chief medical officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health stated recently that unfortunately it appears the numbers are accurate. Following Montgomery are St. Louis and West Memphis, Arkansas. Several states in the top ten are in the southern part of the United States including Louisiana, Texas, and North Carolina. In the top 10 list also are three cities that have large military populations: Norfolk Naval Base in Norfolk, Virginia; Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas; and Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C.
- 1899 per 100,000 is the number of diseases reported in Montgomery
- 4371 was the number of reported cases of STDs in Montgomery
- 1309 cases gonorrhea were reported in Montgomery
- 23 cases of syphilis were reported in Montgomery
The chief medical officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health believes there is a balance between the diseases coming from both transients and those from the Montgomery area.
In Alabama some instructors and legislators state the value of an abstinence only curriculum. Others questions its effectiveness. So there is a debate about sexual education in Alabama.
Funding was cut on the federal level for abstinence-before-marriage education programs in 2017. This included a $10 million a year grant from the Department of Health and Human Services. The new budget proposed increased support for programs and efforts that seek to equip young people with the skills they need to ensure their lifelong sexual health and well-being. This is the statement from the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.
Debate is strong about this in Alabama. It is one of 26 states that does not mandate that sex education be taught in school. Alabama law promotes abstinence as the primary method of sex education taught to students ages 12 to 19. Some question this approach. They point to statistics on how abstinence only programs fail. But abstinence-only remains the primary curriculum taught in half of the U.S., including Alabama. Some feel more education should be centered around prevention of HIV, STDs, and pregnancy.
Alabama does not mandate sex education, but does have guidelines. The state requires that school systems teaching sex education must include and emphasize that abstinence from sexual intercourse is the only completely effective protection against unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome when transmitted sexually. It must also include an emphasis on the importance of self-control and ethical conduct pertaining to sexual behavior.
Abstinence from sexual intercourse outside of lawful marriage is the expected social standard for unmarried school-age persons. Education can also cover statistics based on the latest medical information that indicate the degree of reliability of various forms of contraception.
Demographics play a role in the rates of STIs in your city, region, and state. With the state including the city ranked the most sexually diseased city in the nation, many people in your state are suffering from STDs.
With STI rates high, teen pregnancy rates are high also as some question whether abstinence only has worked in education. In 2014 the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy ranked Alabama among the top 10 states with the highest rates of teen pregnancy. That same year, a health and wellness report published by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) showed that there were approximately 5,084 births to mothers from the age of 15 to the age of 19.
The Alabama counties ranking highest among teen birth rates were Tuscaloosa (216 births), Madison (256 births), Montgomery (281), Mobile (499), and Jefferson County, which had the highest number of 630 births to teen parents.
With STI rates among the highest in the country, let’s remember that the report on people living with HIV/AIDS in Alabama is also high. In 2014 the CDC released data indicating that Alabama has the 17th highest rate of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.
A telling demographic statistic is that the Alabama AIDS Drug Assistance Program’s 2016 quarterly report revealed that 14 percent of their enrolled clients and 7 percent enrolled in their Alabama Insurance Assistance Program, which provides financial assistance to those who are unable to support their pharmaceutical needs, fell between ages 13 to 24. So poverty and age play a role too.
According to a spokesperson from AIDs Alabama South about forty percent of their active client base is women. Most are women of childbearing age. They are also seeing a rise in teen numbers. According to a study by the Alabama Department of Public Health, the fastest growing demographic for HIV cases is among African American men. A reason for problems with getting the word out is funding. The city of Mobile is providing less funding for the AIDs center.
Some believe that Alabama is out of step with effective practices. Alabama is in the Bible Belt and that is a factor. Legislators are dealing with what they think is against God’s will. You are supposed to separate religion from education but that does not always happen. The idea is that if you teach abstinence it will happen. If you teach students how to protect themselves, legislators fear there will be no abstinence. Alabama law states that instructors must emphasize that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable by the general public. Homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of the state.
STI Testing Resources
There are STI testing resources available in your city and region.
Planned Parenthood/Mobile Center is one option. This location could be a place for you to go for information and testing for both males and females plus get treatment if needed. Covered is testing for chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis, and other STDs. The staff is trained to work with someone in your situation, trying to protect your privacy and confidentiality. HIV testing is done with a blood sample from a finger stick, and if are are 19 to 26 with no health insurance, you could get help for an HPV vaccine (Gardasil) at no charge. Medicaid is accepted plus you can book your appointment online.
An area hospital is another option with Providence Hospital being one choice. Other testing options are available with STD Test Express as one of the options for chlamydia and gonorrhea testing and treatment, with you calling for an appointment. STC Check is an option where the service is advertised as 100 percent confidential, results come in one to two days, and all tests are FDA approved. With this service you order a test online or by phone. Then you go to a lab near your location. Then you get results. A chat is available if you have questions.
This is an option if you feel embarrassed to be seen in line at Planned Parenthood or go to a doctor or hospital. The results are delivered to you and no one else, not being reported to your insurance or placed into your medical records. The service also provides guidance and support if you need treatment
AIDs Alabama South is another option. This is the only AIDs service organization serving twelve counties in South Alabama. Lanita Kharel is the AIDS Alabama South Executive Director. Kharel said despite the medical advances over the years and more awareness, HIV and AIDS are still a subject a lot of people don’t want to discuss especially in this conservative community with a lot of denial about HIV. AIDS Alabama South offers services including HIV testing.
The organization stresses prevention and the importance of getting tested on a regular basis. You should know your HIV status. Kharel also notes that what has been done in the past has not worked. We talk about abstinence but people are not practicing it. The rates and statistics are proof when you see the numbers of STIs in the Mobile area and the new cases of HIV. People are getting infected.
Better Sexual Health
Information about testing and treatment is available whether you go to an area hospital, Planned Parenthood/Mobile Center, or another organization or service in your area.
While STD rates are high in your area and state, with some of the highest rates in the country, help is available in your city and the Mobile region in the way of testing and treatment that is confidential, discreet, compassionate, and effective, with many facilities having a bilingual staff.
Consider how the staff at these facilities is trained to help someone like you, especially with the staff at Planned Parenthood/Mobile Center or any other facility reminding you to check your health, improve it, and keep yourself healthy by always using a condom.
Here are links to some of the resources mentioned above.