Even though statistics recently released by the CDC and Mercer County Health Department show that the state has fared better than some others regarding the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, the rates are still increasing. The statistics also indicate that this isn’t a new trend, the STD rate for the state capitol and surrounding county have been steadily increasing over the last twenty years.
It is not just Chlamydia and Gonorrhea incidents that are increasing in frequency, the infection rates for the other commonly transmitted sexually transmitted diseases are also rising. Syphilis rates are up in men, and the same is unfortunately true regarding HIV. Sexually transmitted diseases are not only a problem for men, but women are equally at risk.
Chlamydia incidents are rising in women, especially in teens and young adults. Gonorrhea rates are also increasing, though this venereal disease is increasing in frequency in women and men. What is really surprising to some area health officials is the sudden increase in Hepatitis C diagnoses, which are rising across the state. In 2010 Hepatitis C was listed among the top 5 leading infectious diseases, with more incidents reported annual compared to Influenza or Strep Pneumonia.
Some of the other statistics that residents in the state capitol should be aware of include,
- In 2014 the Gonorrhea rate was reported at 161.8 per 100,000, compared to the state average of 107.5.
- The HIV rate for the county in 2014 was 504.4, compared to the state average which was reported at 350.4.
- From 2009 to 2014 the STD rate has increased 25.6 percent, according to Mercer County health statistics.
Students grades 1 through 12 must take 150 hours of health and family life education classes before graduation, though there can be exceptions at the parents’ request. These progressive classes are spread out in an effort to keep up with the new changes and challenges students face every year, but some health officials worry that this might not be enough. The STD rates among teens and young adults are still rising, along with the number of unplanned pregnancies.
While the state does not require public school systems to use abstinence based material, this decision is left up to the individual districts. State law does mandate that the sex education programs must stress that abstinence is the best policy, without mentioning that it is the only way to prevent STDs. Since the material included in the health and family life education classes are left up to each public school district, many students aren’t receiving the information they need to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections.
Students often graduate not fully understanding the risks and responsibilities that comes with being sexually active. Though condom sales are increasing among young adults, many are still not aware of the importance of always using protection. Regular Herpes testing in Trenton is rarely covered, even though it could help stop the spread of the virus. Regular HIV testing in Trenton is discussed, and this is being credited with helping to decrease the number of new cases reported each year.
There are several factors contributing to the rising STD rates in the state capitol. The lack of comprehensive sex education classes is one of the main contributing factors, but it is certainly not the only one. The city’s diverse population can make it difficult for health officials to stress the importance of regular STI testing to everyone. Since it is the state capitol there are a large number of visitors each year, and this is also causing the STD rates to increase.
Many of the visitors to this historic state capitol have never been tested for a sexually transmitted disease. Since not all STDs display immediate signs and symptoms it can be easy to spread an infection without even knowing it. This alone is reason enough for residents to start taking care of their sexual health.
One of the biggest contributing factors to the rise in STD rates is the recent budget cuts to health care. The state cut funding to several community STI clinics and this forced the majority of them to close their doors. This is making it difficult for many residents to find a convenient place to get tested. Adding to the problems is the fact that Medicaid no longer covers regular STD testing, and this means that many low income residents simply can’t afford the fees.
Until these and other problems are resolved the city can expect to see its STD rates continue to rise.
Before you decide to spend the day exploring this historic state capitol it is important to take a few minutes to think about your sexual health. The number of STDs reported each year is rising, and the best way to protect yourself is to be tested on a regular basis. It is understandable if you don’t want to wait in a long line at a community health center, and now there is a faster and easier way to get tested for all the transmittable diseases. With one simple phone call you can schedule confidential STD testing and only spend a few minutes at a local lab. This way you still have plenty of time to take in all of the scenic sites.