The state of Alaska's sexually transmitted disease (STDs) prevalence analysis presents a mixed picture. On the one hand, the state is topping the lists of worst-hit states in the USA for chlamydia and gonorrhea but has the lowest rates for syphilis and HIV.
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Which Method of STD Testing is Suitable for Me?
Every sexually active individual must protect their sexual health. Regular STD testing is the only way to care for your sexual health. However, sometimes it becomes confusing to select the right testing method as there are so many options available. For your convenience, we have gathered information about all available STD testing methods in Alaska. Check them out to find out which option is suitable for you.
|Testing Method||Waiting Times||Speed of Results||Positive Consultation|
Private Testing (Walk-In Clinic)
10-20 Minutes with No Wait
Free With Positive Result
At-Home STD Testing
Free With Positive Result
Call for Appointment
Call for Appointment
Out-of-Pocket Cost Required
Limited Hours and Long Lines
Learn more in our ultimate guide to STD testing.
It can be, but it does not necessarily have to be. What many people need to understand is that laboratory tests would most often than not be relatively pricey due to the technology that is being utilized behind these diagnostic techniques. However, opting for specific laboratories that offer more convenient testing procedures and discounted prices for diagnostic tests would help ensure that the price will not be much of an issue in providing you with the conclusive diagnosis of your condition. It might take some independent scanning to find the right testing center for you in the most acceptable price range, but it is not as impossible as many people make it out to be.
Considering that a wide variety of testing kits and laboratory procedures can be performed to determine conclusively whether you have a particular STD or not, the time that it will take for your results to return will also be subject to the same inconsistency. Although there are specific laboratories that could produce your results even by the end of the day (albeit, it is extremely rare for institutions to do so unless necessary), most would often take a few days to a week before the results are either delivered or posted online through your secure personal profile (in the case of online transactions). In addition to that, the capability of the laboratory performing the test may also contribute to the overall timeframe of result delivery – causing delays in cases where there are several requests or understaffed to provide expedited results.
For more information, skip to the FAQs section on this page.
However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a disturbing trend is observed in Alaska over the past five years: the rate of primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis has more than doubled since 2018. The numbers are startlingly high, and a somewhat similar scenario is reported for chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Since the start of the AIDS epidemic, researchers have noted a solid epidemiologic correlation between STDs and HIV/AIDS in the USA. In May 1997, the Advisory Committee for HIV and STD Prevention (ACHSP) examined the relation between curable sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) risk.
The committee declared that there was enough evidence to suggest that early detection and treatment of curable STDs can effectively help in preventing sexually transmitted HIV infection. Hence, early diagnoses and treatment of common STDs must become a significant and explicit component of comprehensive STD/HIV prevention programs at national, state, and local levels.
If you don't want to get infected with HIV or get exposed to other, lifelong, drastic consequences of STDs, it is essential to get tested. This becomes particularly crucial if you are sexually active or have multiple partners. Many believe that using protection is enough to prevent sexually transmitted infection (STI), which is a misconception. A person can have an STD without detecting any signs or symptoms. That's why these are called STIs since experts claim you can have an infection without experiencing disease symptoms.
Regular screening is the only effective strategy to keep your sexual life healthy and physical health thriving. The frequency of testing depends on several factors, such as your sexual behaviors, age, and other risk factors.
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In 2018-19 Alaska reported the highest chlamydia in the country and the second-highest gonorrhea rate, revealing the most recent STD surveillance report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Alaska reportedly had the highest per capita rates of chlamydia among all US states. This trend has been noted since 1996, though. Since October 2017, reports CDC, Alaska has been undergoing a gonorrhea outbreak. CDC reported that in 2018, there were over 6,150 chlamydia cases and around 2,247 gonorrhea cases in Alaska. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services stated in a press release following this report that "High STD rates are not unusual news for Alaska, but they are alarming and should serve as a reminder to Alaskans to practice safe sex and get tested."
In 2017, the number of new gonorrhea cases in the state increased by a whopping 51% compared to 2016's statistics. Preliminary data suggested that Alaska ranked fourth for overall STDs rates in the USA in 2016. Still, in 2017, it recorded almost twice as many cases with gonorrhea cases exceeding 2,190 or 297/100,000 people compared to 197/100,000 people in 2016. For years, Alaskans have exceeded the national average in gonorrhea rates. Alaska is also struggling to control chlamydia rates in the state. Since 2001, the state has been topping the list of highest chlamydia rates in the country.
In 2017, under 6,000 Alaskans were diagnosed with chlamydia, and the state ranked 40th in countrywide lists, but after accounting for population variations and adjustments, the state moved up to number one for reporting at least 50% higher rates than anywhere else in the country.
In 2018, the state health department issued a warning of a syphilis outbreak as that year Alaska recorded more cases since 2013. Although the state ranks 21st nationally and its syphilis cases are lower than the national average. However, since 2017, Alaska health officials have noted a 300% increase from previous years in syphilis cases of all stages, including the most threatening primary and secondary syphilis stages. In 2018, more cases of P&S syphilis were reported than the combined number of cases reported between 2014 and 2017.
The Anchorage/Mat-Su region, including the City of Anchorage, was the worst-hit region as nearly half of all reported chlamydia cases in Alaska in 2016-17 were from this area. The Interior region, including Fairbanks, accounted for 15% of all chlamydial infections. Around two-thirds of all reported gonorrhea cases in the state were diagnosed in Anchorage area residents, whereas 85% of people diagnosed with any stage of syphilis lived in Anchorage's urban centers, Fairbanks or Juneau.
Reportedly, around 58% of all reported gonorrhea cases in 2018 in Alaska were diagnosed in people aged 29 or younger. The cases were evenly split between males and females. Southwest Alaska reported the highest rate of gonorrheal infections, followed by the Anchorage, Matanuska-Susitna, and Northern Alaska regions.
During 2018, over 114 syphilis diagnoses were reported to the Alaska Section of Epidemiology. In 2019 the number increased to 242 cases, thus marking a 112% increase in cases within a single year. At least 86% of the cases were newly acquired and classified as infectious. Out of the 207 syphilis cases in Alaska during 2018, 65% were diagnosed in males, 44% of them identified as men who have sex with men, whereas 52% were men who have sex with women.
At least 35% of the reported diagnoses were in females. 97% of the females were of childbearing age. Almost 90% of them were heterosexual, and 4% were bisexual. Around 94% lived in urban communities, and their age ranged between 15 and 85 years. It was identified that 35% of the infected people were diagnosed with at least another STD or known HIV infection.
Gonorrhea and chlamydia outbreaks have been concentrated in the Alaska Native communities residing in rural Alaska, particularly the southwestern and northern parts of the state. The latest available data on Alaska Native communities' STD prevalence is from 2010, which indicates that the southwestern region reported a gonorrhea infection rate of 1,125/100,000 people. That was ten times the national average back then. The hub city of Bethel and Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta regions were the epicenters of STDs in Alaska along with the Arctic northwest.
The chlamydia infection rates in Alaska Natives were six times higher than White Alaskans, reported the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. Young people were the most at-risk group of the population in this context mainly because they are most likely to indulge in high-risk sexual behaviors.
The disproportionately low rates of diagnosis and treatment of STDs in Alaska a Native people and those living in rural Alaska seem to stem from several factors. These include factors like confidentiality/privacy concerns, scarce healthcare resources, and geographic isolation. Moreover, the use of conventional clinical methods of STD testing is also limited in rural areas. In 2011, an at-home STD testing service was launched by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) to address these challenges. The I Want the Kit–Alaska (IWTK–Alaska) initiative was launched in collaboration with the IWTK program of the Johns Hopkins University.
As per the guidelines of this initiative, any Alaska resident aged 14 or above can order a free STD test kit via www.iwantthekit.org. The kit allows the user to collect rectal or genital samples at home and mail them to the department to test for common STDs. John Hopkins maintains the website, and it also performs all laboratory testing and manages kit distribution. Conversely, ANTHC is responsible for marketing the service, providing phone-based risk analysis and counseling, and informs the participants about their results. Positive cases are reported to the state, and people who have tested positive are provided access to their closest treatment services.
This statewide initiative aims to compel people to get tested, especially the high-risk population groups including Alaska Natives, females, rural Alaskans, Alaska Indians, and anyone aged between 15-29.
The program has launched an extensive advertising campaign called Wrap It Up Alaska in partnership with the Alaska Division of Public Health to reach out to these groups. Wrap It Up Alaska is a state-funded social marketing campaign that yielded favorable results. The number of kits tested via IWTK-Alaska increased from 186 in 2012 to 304 in 2014, marking a 63% increase. This increment was primarily noted among high-risk populations.
Similar to how other testing procedures behave, false-positive results are still evident even in STD testing. False-positive and even false-negative results are standard instances that showcase the imperfection of the test’s design – a factor that is present everywhere. However, despite certain inconsistencies in laboratory tests as such, physicians commonly use confirmatory tests that would often take another path entirely to arrive at the same conclusion – solidifying the initial test’s diagnosis while still ensuring that the second test is not following the inconsistencies of the first.
Although NAATs are well-known for their accuracy and sensitivity in detecting most STDs, it is also subject to certain inconsistencies, especially in the case of herpes infections. In Herpes, outbreaks often result in a relative increase in the patient’s viral load – leading to a timeline that usually has specific peaks at certain intervals instead of a consistent rise in viral load throughout. As such, sensitive tests such as NAATs are still unable to accurately diagnose herpes conditions, especially in cases where the patient has recently become asymptomatic and is currently between outbreaks. Other tests such as culture testing and type-specific virologic tests are often employed instead as a confirmatory diagnosis for the patient’s condition.
Depending on the test being performed and the testing physician's targeted diseases, various types of samples can be requested from you. In some instances, a minuscule blood sample of a few milliliters will be collected, some might ask for a urine sample, and others may opt for a genital swab. Again, the sample being collected will depend on the test being conducted and the outcome that is being targeted for this particular procedure.
It does vary on a case-to-case basis. Insurance policies are often particular with the instances that they would be covering with their program. Some may cover severe accidents, some may even consider “orphan disease,” and yes, some may also cover the expenses for performing STD diagnostic tests. However, considering that your insurance provider will have to verify the person's identity availing of the program, STD testing laboratories that employ a minimal collection of patient information may not accept insurance policies to prioritize privacy over affordability.
Similar to what was previously mentioned, herpes infections are known for their recurring tendencies – causing outbreaks now and then and thus causing an intermittent spike in the patient’s viral load for specific instances. In addition to that, other STDs also take time to proliferate and produce a sufficient viral load that could warrant a positive and, more importantly, accurate diagnosis and detection from the tests being administered. As such, detecting an STD a few days following exposure is often complex and unpredictable – leading physicians to follow a certain timeframe instead for testing STDs instead of blindly testing immediately following exposure. Physical exams, however, may supplement inaccurate laboratory diagnoses, especially in cases where the test is prone to false results.
How Does it Work?
Most people experience feelings of hesitation when going to get tested for STD, despite knowing they might have contracted one. EasySTD was created to change that.
Visit your nearest lab or clinic, order your home testing kit online, and follow the given instructions from an STD testing provider.
After ordering your STD test, visit the testing center to get tested or take a self sample including urine, cotton swab, or finger prick with the home testing kit and mail it back.
Receive the lab-certified results of your STD test from your test provider via mail or phone within 2 to 3 days. If the test comes positive, consult your doctor immediately.