The Silent Epidemic: STDs Rapidly Spreading in Lawrenceville, GA Among Young People Who Don’t Get Tested
Sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates are at an all time high and rising at an alarming pace, according to the CDC. Georgia has risen to the 5th highest state with Atlanta being the 10th highest city for the three most common– chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea.
However, the STD epidemic is widely unrecognized. Despite the stigma often associated with STDs, 1 in 2 sexually active people will have an STD before 25. Untreated, many of these causes serious and long term health problems.
Many infected people have no symptoms, so many go undiagnosed and continue to spread diseases.Chlamydia, the “silent infection,” often shows no symptoms. Most men and women with gonorrhea are asymptomatic. Only 30% of those with trichomoniasis (trich) develop any symptoms. And it’s assumed that more than 1 in 6 Americans have genital herpes (HSV-2) and close to 90% don’t know because there are often no symptoms.
With 20 million new cases in the U.S. every year, David C. Harvey, MSW, Executive Director, National Coalition of STD Directors, has urged for the STD epidemic to be labeled a national crisis.
Harvey stated, “[an] extreme lack of awareness and education about STDs and sexual health” as one of the main contributors to the problem, as well as a lack of routine screening.
Without symptoms, many infected don’t consider themselves at risk. Young people are especially likely to ignore the possibility. “As more people rely on digital means of making connections, it can lead to circumstances where they might be more exposed to infection without them knowing it,” said Gerald Hasty, Hawaii’s Department of Health Harm Reduction Services Branch. Young people are more likely to have multiple partners and less likely to use a condom– even though condoms don’t protect against all STDs like HPV. Also many don’t realize they are still at risk from anal or oral sex as well.
The CDC reported 15-24 year olds account for 50% of new STDs each year, though they only account for 27% of the sexually active population. Biologically, adolescent women are more susceptible to some STDs such as chlamydia because of cervical ectopy, and 1 in 4 women sexually active under 24 have an STD.
Adolescents are also less likely to get tested, with concerns about cost and confidentiality, especially for those still on their parents’ insurance plans. Untreated though, these STDs cause long-term health complications, including an increased risk of HIV, pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, and infertility.
Each year, 24,000 women become infertile because of an untreated STD, and multiple infections can increase the risk to a woman’s reproductive health. Many STDs are easily cured with antibiotics, but permanent damage cannot be undone, which is why regular testing and early detection is crucial.
The CDC recommends annual testing for gonorrhea and chlamydia for sexually active women under 25 and women with increased risk factors.
“Don’t assume that you’re receiving STI testing every time you have a gynecological exam or Pap test,” warns MayoClinic. Pregnant women especially need to request an STD test early in their pregnancy to reduce the risk of complications.
If left unchecked the rampant STD epidemic, especially among young people, could leave more than individual health at risk.
As more people contract STDs, more women are left infertile or with reproductive health complications, and more infant deaths and newborn complications are related to STDs (already, congenital syphilis has increased by 22% in a single year). The effects of the STD epidemic could be crippling to the next generation.
“Curbing STDs will improve the overall health of the nation and prevent infertility, HIV, and infant deaths,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.
The first step to stopping the STD crisis is to know your personal STD status. Obria offers 100% confidential testing and treatment for you and your partner.
Obria Medical Clinics Lawrenceville
565 Old Norcross Rd #200,
Lawrenceville, GA 30046