Additional STD Test Statistics in Warner Robins, GA
Given the fact that sexually transmitted diseases are a public health concern across America, affecting all communities irrespective of their demographic make-up or their economic vitality, it should not be surprising that this is also an issue for the community of Warner Robins, Georgia, and more broadly all of Houston County. In fact, it is perhaps an even more pressing concern for Warner Robins, compared with other similarly sized communities, because of the disproportionate number of young people who live in the community.
Although Houston County generally ranks at or near the top of Georgia counties based on a wide variety of health outcomes, including quality of life, its rankings begin to tumble when one looks at the rate of sexually transmitted diseases in the county. There is approximately three times the rate of newly diagnosed sexually transmitted diseases (across all diseases) in the county compared with the top performing counties in the United States. Yet, despite this sobering statistic, the rate of overall STD infections is lower in Houston County than it is for Georgia as a whole. This is fueled in part by the fact that sexually transmitted diseases tend to be negatively correlated with higher levels of income and education. Given that residents of Warner Robins are more economically secure than many Georgia residents, this statistic is not entirely surprising.
Even though the statistics for Warner Robins tend to be better than those seen in Georgia as a whole, this is not true for chlamydia cases. In Houston County, there are roughly 463 chlamydia cases per 100,000 individuals. This compares with a figure of 436 chlamydia cases per 100,000 for Georgia, and an average of only 309 cases per 100,000 for the United States as a whole. The elevated rate of newly diagnosed chlamydia cases in the Warner Robins area can be explained largely by community demographics.
As teenagers increasingly accept the concept of a hook-up culture in which dating has largely been replaced with causal interactions that frequently end with sex (and often unprotected sex), more and more young people are being diagnosed with chlamydia and gonorrhea. Infection rates in the 15-24 year old demographic are exploding. Given the large number of young adults who make up Warner Robins population, it is not surprising that chlamydia and gonorrhea rates are relatively high here.
On the flip side, HIV/AIDS infection rates are significantly lower in Warner Robins and the Houston County area than they are for Georgia, as a whole, and the rest of the United States. Increasingly, new HIV/AIDS infections are being seen in either large urban areas that are home to a large number of young, homosexual males or in rural communities facing the growing heroin epidemic. Clearly, Warner Robins does not fit this demographic picture, and thus, the relatively low HIV/AIDS rate here should not be entirely surprising.
For myriad reasons, over the last two decades, syphilis has re-emerged as a public health crisis and infection rates have skyrocketed across the country. Public health officials have struggled with the best way to address this rebound, and Houston County (and Warner Robins) are not immune from this growing challenge. The CDC has determined that the infection rate for syphilis in the community is just under 5 cases per 100,000. However, it is important to remember that not all doctors and medical professionals have been quick to respond to this public health concern. Some doctors are slow to test their patients, and thus, reported figures may significantly lag behind actual infection rates.
STD Testing and Sexual Health Education in Warner Robins, GA
Sexual health education is often a touchy subject in American public schools. There is frequently a sharp divide between individuals who believe that children should receive comprehensive sexual health education (focused on the importance of using condoms and regularly being tested for STDs) and those who believe that programs should be abstinence-only. Even though many more conservative members of a community come down in favor of abstinence-based programs, research indicates that these programs tend to be significantly less effective in preventing teenage pregnancies and the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases than their more comprehensive counterparts.
Sexual health education is important in all communities. However, given the staggering number of Warner Robins’ residents who are under the age of 18, the topic has even more significance in this community.
Recognizing this, the Houston County School District in recent years has worked on revamping its sexual health curriculum. The new program for older grades has not yet been launched. However, several years ago, a program was rolled out for students in kindergarten through 5th grade. This program was focused on teaching safety and explaining, in a non-threatening manner, to children how to recognize sexual abuse and potential predators, as well as what to do if they found themselves in this type of situation. The program is predicated on the belief that children who are aware of their body and safety from a young age and who understand the importance of consent will be more likely to make informed sexual health decisions as they age.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Demographics in Warner Robins, GA
According to the most recent census, Warner Robins, Georgia has a population of more than 65,000. This represents a significant (nearly 40 percent) increase in recent years. The majority of new residents to the community are drawn by its strong school system and reputation as a family-friendly mecca, as well as the abundance of jobs that exist in the community. Unlike many cities across the South, Warner Robins has been relatively unaffected by economic fluctuations in recent years.
Despite its reputation for having a strong economy, it is worth noting that more than 10 percent of the city’s population live below the poverty line, including a significant number of families with young children. Based on its image as a family friendly mecca, it is not surprising that more than 1 in 3 households had a child under the age of 18, and a staggering 28 percent of the population is under the age of 18. Given that a growing number of newly diagnosed chlamydia and gonorrhea cases across the country are in individuals between the ages of 15 and 24, many of whom are experimenting with their sexuality, the large number of young adults living in Warner Robins may help explain its relatively high STD rates.
It is also worth drawing attention to the fact that Warner Robins’ population is racially diverse. White residents account for roughly 50 percent of the town’s population, whereas black residents make up 36 percent of the population and Hispanics account for another 15 percent of the town’s residents.
STI Testing Resources in Warner Robins, GA
Although Warner Robins, Georgia is a booming mid-sized community, there are a surprisingly limited number of options for people who are interested in being tested and treated for sexually transmitted diseases. Contributing to this lack of options is the fact that all three operational Planned Parenthood facilities in Georgia (Lawrenceville, Marietta, and Savannah) are a more than two hour drive from Warner Robins. Many people are unwilling to travel this far for medical testing. The lack of Planned Parenthood clinics also limits sexual health education, as well as medical treatment for individuals who are LGBTQ (since Planned Parenthood is at the cutting-edge of providing sensitive and best practice care for individuals in this demographic group).
Since Robins Air Force Base is the largest employer in the community, it is perhaps not surprising that many people seek out their medical care, including testing and treating STDs, from medical staff on the base. However, some individuals may have concerns that this treatment option offers limited privacy. For people who do have these concerns, there are some other options that are available. Testing can be done in private doctors offices, as well as at for-pay clinics that are focused on providing diagnostic services. The potential problem with pursuing this choice is that often there is no staff available to walk people through their results or provide them with counseling about safe sexual health practices and/or long-term consequences of their diagnoses.
In addition to the options highlighted above, people can also undergo comprehensive STD testing at the Houston County Health Department (which operates under the auspices of the Georgia Department of Public Health). The Health Department offers testing for all STDs without appointments, and these services are provided on a sliding scale so that no one is priced out of necessary testing.
Better Sexual Health in Warner Robins, GA
Warner Robins, Georgia is a booming mid-sized community that is located in the heart of Georgia. A large percentage of the town’s residents are employed at the local military base, Robins Air Force Base that provides stable and well-paying jobs and economic security to the community.
In addition to the economy, residents are drawn by the town’s reputation as an outstanding community in which to raise children. This reputation has been confirmed in surveys published in national and state magazines. And, as a result, there are a staggering number of individuals under the age of 18 living in Warner Robins.
Yet, despite its strong reputation, Warner Robins is not immune to the public health challenges that affect the rest of the United States. And this includes sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia and HIV/AIDS and syphilis. Despite attempts to educate young people about the importance of regularly engaging in safe sexual health practices and being tested and treated for sexually transmitted diseases, many young adults still engage in risky practices which drive up the rates for these diseases, and may also lead to long-term health consequences (such as infertility) for those who are diagnosed. Moving forward, it is important for the community’s schools, as well as other organizations, to work to educate the community so that people are able to enjoy all of the wonderful opportunities that Warner Robins offers.