Located between Sacramento and San Francisco it’s not surprising that this small city is dealing with a high STD rate, but health officials were not expecting some of these numbers to be above state averages. According to statistics released by the Solano County Health Department and CDC the STD rates for the area have been rising for the past twenty years.
This is surprising to some residents given the city’s somewhat rural location and its small population, but according to the statistics there is a problem with sexually transmitted diseases in the area. In 2014 the Chlamydia rate reported at 528.6 compared to the state’s 453.4, and this is reason enough for residents to be worried about their sexual health.
The statistics do show an interesting trend. From 2010 to 2011 the rates for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea were below state averages, and Syphilis incidents fell as well. Unfortunately these rates were all back up in 2012, and have been increasing ever since.
Health officials are also noticing that it is not just teens and young adults that are testing positive for a STD with alarming frequency, but incident rates in older residents are also increasing. While this is due to several demographical factors, it does mean that everyone has a potential risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease.
Some of the recent statistics that highlight this growing health include,
- Chlamydia and Gonorrhea rates in women have been above state averages since 2012.
- Women ages 20 to 24 have the highest risk for contracting Chlamydia and Gonorrhea.
- Men ages 25 to 29 are more likely to contract Syphilis than other males.
While some Californian cities already have comprehensive sex education programs in place, the state made it mandatory in January of 2016. All public school districts are now required to provide 7th through 12th graders medically accurate information on STDs and how they can be prevented.
While abstinence is still encouraged and students are taught that simply not having intercourse is the best way to prevent pregnancies, educators also know that the majority of teens have engaged in sexual activity at least once before graduation. With this view in mind the new education program covers all of the risks and responsibilities that come with being sexual active.
This includes comprehensive information on current sexual issues, along with access to condoms and tips on how to use contraceptives effectively. HIV education is still taught according to state and federal standards, but now students are also learning about the other STDs. In cities where these comprehensive programs are already in place the rate of STD infections is falling, and local officials are hopeful that the same will be true for the city.
The program also stresses the importance of regular HIV testing in Vacaville, especially since the rates are rising in the county. Students are even taught that regular Herpes testing in Vacaville is just as important, especially if they don’t want to contract this embarrassing virus.
Like most of the state this small city has a diverse population. Same sex couples comprise 22 percent of the population, which is made up of several ethnicities. While this helps to give the city its festive flair, it is also contributing to the high STD rates.
The diverse cultures are making it difficult for health officials to reach all of the city’s residents, and often they encounter a language barrier. While same sex couples are widely accepted, many of them still fear reprisals if they are seen visiting a STI clinic. All of this combined means that many residents are not taking care of their sexual health.
The city’s smaller size and slightly remote location means that there are fewer community STD centers for residents to visit. The few that are located nearby are dealing with recent budget cuts which has left them understaffed and with limited hours of operation. This has resulted in long lines and crowded waiting rooms that residents try to avoid unless they know for sure that there is a problem. By then chances are they are already passed the STD onto other residents.
Not only did the cuts to funding affect the clinics, but also residents ability to afford regular STD testing. Where it was once covered under Medicaid, residents are now required to pay for the procedure out of pocket. This has left the area’s low income families unable to afford the simple procedure.
Until these and other problems are addressed the city can expect to see its STD rates continue to rise.
Before you head to the annual Farmers Market or sample the food at the Rib & Chili Cook-Off it is a good idea to take a few minutes and take care of your sexual health. This means regular STD testing, even if you are not sexually active. It is understandable if you don’t want to wait in the long lines at the community health center, especially if you think there isn’t a problem. It is still important to be tested, and now there is a faster and easier way. You can schedule confidential STD testing with one simple phone call, and this way you only need to spend a few minutes in the privacy of a conveniently located lab.