Even this primarily agricultural city is seeing a spike in STD rates that were already alarming high. The seat of Tulare County and the 44th largest city in the state, Visalia is currently in the midst of a health crisis.
Unfortunately the city and surrounding county are used to high Chlamydia and Gonorrhea rates, but it was not expecting to see primary and secondary Syphilis incidents increasing. This disease was thought to have been under control, but the recent statistics released by the CDC shows that this is not the case.
Not only are men testing positive for the potentially deadly disease more often, but the rate of infection is women is also rising. This is especially troublesome to health officials who do not see this increase in all cities across the state.
All of the sexually transmitted diseases are more prevalent in Hispanics and African Americans, and men are often the highest at risk for all of the STDs except for Chlamydia. Teens and young adults are also testing positive more frequently, though Syphilis does seem to affect more older men. Some of the other statistics that have health officials and city leaders paying attention include,
- 40.3 percent of Chlamydia cases reported in 2014 occurred in women ages 20 to 24.
- 2014 saw an increase in Gonorrhea incidents in men that surpassed state averages.
- Between 2013 and 2014 primary and secondary Syphilis diagnoses increased slightly in women, and rose sharply in men.
- By 2014 the number of men who tested positive for Gonorrhea was above the state average for percentage of females infected.
In response to the increasing number of teens and young adults who test positive each year for at least one STD the state of California has recently made it mandatory for all public schools to include comprehensive and medically accurate information on the dangers of engaging in sexual activity, along with all of the various ways to protect yourself from a venereal disease.
While most officials and parents agree that something needs to be done to help lower STD rates and stop the spread of infection, not all are comfortable with the new curriculum. Many point out that the legal age for consent in the state is still 18, and that there is no reason to encourage younger teens to start having sex. Supporters of the new classes point out that students are already sexually active, and with polls showing that over half of all graduating seniors have already engaged in intercourse it seems that they are right.
Even though studies show that education is the most effective way to stop STDs, it is still important to be tested by a health care provider. Regular Herpes testing in Visalia is especially important if residents want to slow down the spread of the virus in area high schools, and the same is true for the other STDs. Regular HIV testing in Visalia is also vital for your continued good health. Once everyone realizes that taking care of their sexual health is important, the STD rates in the area will start to decline.
One of the main demographical factors contributing to the growing percentage of residents who test positive for a STD is the large number of migrant workers who come into the area each year.
San Joaquin Valley is well known for its agricultural and Visalia is at the center. While this is beneficial for the local economy, it also means that there is a sudden spurt in the population during the growing season. The majority of these workers are not aware of the dangers STDs present, and many are already infected when they come to the area.
Without adequate health care in place to address these concerns at the migrant farm camps STDs will continue to spread unchecked through the area. Since some sexually transmitted infections can be passed through touch contact, this also means that permanent residents are at risk.
Language barriers among Hispanic workers and a deep mistrust of any government employee are also contributing to the high STD rates in the city. The remote location in the valley can make it difficult for health officials to set up testing centers, and the entire state is also dealing with a significant lack of funding. Without the funds necessary to keep community health centers open, many residents are finding it difficult to find somewhere to go to be tested.
While some steps are being taken to help slow the spread of STDs, it will not be enough until everyone realizes that being tested regularly is an important part of taking care of their overall health.
With the Sierra Nevada Mountains nearby and Sequoia National Forest many residents skip regular STD testing in favor of spending the day outside. With the long lines that are common at the community health centers it is impossible to blame them for not wanting to be stuck inside a crowded waiting room, but now there is an easier way to take care of your sexual health. With one simple phone call you can schedule confidential STD testing and only spend 20 minutes or so at a local lab, which still gives you plenty of time to explore one of the nearby national parks.