The system for collecting data for all STD testing in the region has been a great success. Health care providers and centers forward the information that they collect for each patient to the health department, then the Center for Disease Control for analytic and inclusion in the national database. Dedicated analysts and statisticians put together reports that show the trends and patterns for epidemiology and health concerns that are identified. This makes it easy to find out where the problem areas are and target them for action. The annual surveillance for STD infections shows the rates of positive testing results per 100,000 people in this locale. The table below shows the most current annual figures.
- Syphilis (all stages) -11.0
- Gonorrhea – 74.4
- Chlamydia – 494.8
While these numbers are high enough to elicit concern, the good news is that in comparison to some other cities in the nation, Gonorrhea and Syphilis rates are significantly lower. In contrast, the Chlamydia rates are up. Looking at the data over the past decade gives analysts an idea of the current trends in infection numbers and which segments of the population have the greatest frequency of positives. In step with national trends, Chlamydia is the number one sexually transmitted disease that prevails in the region. Twice as many women get this disease as men and the majority of them are between the ages of 20 to 24 with those 15 to 19 coming in a close second.
There is a link between the number of people being tested and the characteristics of the groups making up the population. More testing occurs when there is greater affluence in the city. High pockets of people who live at or below the poverty level generally means that fewer people are being tested. Analysts believe that this happens because some have not been properly educated about matters of sexual health and those who have may not know that there are health care resource options which are open to them. There are others who do not know that the testing process is completely confidential and embarrassment may be an obstacle to seeking testing and treatment for STD infection.
The reality of the situation is that there are STD testing clinics open to serve the need of clients in this city. Free centers offer free or reduced testing fees for those who qualify. A lack of resources is not as much of the problem as the lack of information about them. It is true that there is limited funding for some free clinics, but it is rare that the funds become depleted in between funding cycles.
There are programs and campaigns currently active to help educate people in the area about their risk for STDs and where to go for help. Students in the public school system undergo mandatory sexual health education classes. Upon completion they will know where they can get HIV testing or a Herpes test. All pregnant women are routinely screened for STDs as a part of their prenatal health care regimen. While this is helpful in better preparing the upcoming residents from an early age, it doesn’t reach all sectors of the population. There are still people who are at a great risk who may not understand how great the risk is.
Risk for STD infection is a combination of different factors that have been established by a thorough analysis of the information that is on hand. For example, data from the past 5 years shows that women in the 20 to 24 year age group have higher rates for Chlamydia than men. Black men and women have the highest infection rates and those who are at or below the poverty level consistently test positive more frequently than those in other groups. By examining this information, it can be inferred that being female is a risk factor, being Black ups the odds and being at the poverty level further increases the risk. The single greatest risk factor that must be present before any of the rest apply is that a person must be sexually active with partners who may themselves be infected. This is a simplification of how risk is determined.
Your sexual health is important to you and to everyone who cares about you. It can not only impact your life, but those you are intimately involved with. Few people would knowingly pass on a condition to someone they care about, but if you don’t know that you have it, you may well do so without meaning to. If you are at any risk for having an STD, there is a simple solution close at hand. Quickly and easily order your testing then follow up at a local lab to finish the process. The clinic staff will protect your privacy and get you in and out fast. It doesn’t take long and you’ll be glad that you did.