The latest estimates suggest a 16% rise in STD cases between 2016 and 2017. However, the health department claims that STDs have risen among Arizonans for the past fifteen years.
STDs are serious diseases and can lead to other diseases such as pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, colon cancer, and pregnancy-related complications, for instance, ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage. Syphilis can cause issues with the eyes, heart, brain, and ears. Women of childbearing age are the most vulnerable group of the population as they may suffer drastic health outcomes.
Most people believe that if they contract a sexually transmitted infection, they will immediately know about it. However, the reality is that most STDs are asymptomatic. This means the disease won’t show any symptoms during the initial few stages. By the time an individual detects any symptoms, the disease has progressed to a latter, more chronic stage. It becomes difficult to treat it then.
The good news is that if detected at the right time, STDs can be treated. It is now possible to prevent STDs through regular testing, consistent use of condoms, and fewer sexual partners.
Remember that untreated STDs can cause irreversible health complications, including male/female infertility, premature birth, and congenital disabilities in newborns, apart from the diseases mentioned above.
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As per the latest available STDs surveillance report from the Arizona Department of Health, in 2017, more than 54,000 cases were reported in the state, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Chlamydia was identified as the most commonly reported STD in the state, as around 40,000 cases were reported in 2017. The next most commonly reported STD in Arizona was gonorrhea, which marked a whopping 94% rise in the past five years. Reportedly, syphilis isn’t a commonly reported STD in Arizona, as are chlamydia and gonorrhea, its impacts can be devastating. It is alarming that the rate of babies born with syphilis doubled in the state in 2017 compared to 2016 statistics.
According to the state’s annual STD report 2017, there were 39, 635 cases of chlamydia reported in Arizona, and nearly 67% of them were women. Another surprising fact is that one in five syphilis cases were diagnosed in women in 2017. It is worth noting that since January 2015, a sharp rise in the monthly average of syphilis diagnoses in women was observed.
This rise has led to an increase in congenital syphilis cases as well. In 2016 around 16 babies were born with syphilis, whereas in 2017, just one year later, the number of babies born with syphilis increased significantly with 31 babies. That’s double the number reported in 2016. Three babies born with congenital syphilis in 2017 died immediately after being born or were stillborn.
Conversely, preventive measures helped in protecting 83 babies from contracting syphilis. One on three congenital syphilis cases were reported outside Maricopa County. Another critical aspect to note is that about 29% or 9 of the women who gave birth to babies with syphilis were either infected or re-infected after their first test.
In Arizona, the most vulnerable population group regarding STDs is women, particularly pregnant women or those of childbearing age. Other potentially at-risk groups include men who have sex with men and teens and young adults falling into the 15-24 age group category. These groups reported the highest rates of STDs in the state in 2017.
In addition to that, African-Americans and American Indians continue to report the highest rates of STD diagnoses. In 2017, as per the statistics from Arizona’s STD surveillance report, around 58% of all syphilis cases, 2.8% of all chlamydia cases, and 12% of all gonorrhea cases were reported in men who have sex with men. Though this group represents a relatively small proportion of rural cases in Arizona, the group is disproportionately impacted by syphilis compared to men who have female sex partners only.
People aged 10-24 make up around 20% of Arizona’s total population, and this group accounted for 53% of all STD diagnoses in 2017. This group represented a majority of all chlamydia cases, around half of all reported gonorrhea cases, and at least 20% of all syphilis cases in the state. However, the fact cannot be overlooked that STDs are increasing at a much faster rate among people aged 25-39, whereas people aged 65 or older represented just 1% of all STDs diagnoses.
It is worth noting that significant racial disparities have persisted in Arizona state as far as STD case rates are concerned. These disparities occur among people with reported syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia infections. STDs greatly impact American Indians in Arizona.
The southwestern region in the USA has the largest population of American Indians by region, and this race is experiencing significantly high rates of STDs. For instance, in 2004, at least 92% of all primary/secondary syphilis cases reported in this region were identified in American Indians living in three Indian Health Service (IHS) Areas Navajo, Phoenix, and Albuquerque. Arizona has portions of Phoenix and Navajo, so the state reports a higher number of STD cases among American Indians.
During 2007, African-Americans reported the highest rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia infections. American Indians recorded the second-highest rate of chlamydia with 649 cases/100,000 people and the second-highest gonorrhea rate with 95 cases/100,000 people. Compared to other racial or ethnic groups, these were 1.7 and 1.2 times higher.
The Arizona Department of Health Services has collaborated with partners at local public health departments and those located within the community to offer comprehensive STD screening and treatment services. The department focuses on expanding access to STD testing and treatment to at-risk populations. The department provided funding to local health departments to offer STD testing to 18,138 people and treatment to around 2,126 partners and prevented at least 83 babies from contracting syphilis in 2017.
The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) has launched STD Control Program (STDCP) to ensure effective use of resources and channel efforts to improve the epidemiology, surveillance, communication capacity, and policy building at the state level. This program offers support to all stakeholders, particularly those serving at-risk populations. This includes community-based organizations and local health departments.
The STDCP has roped in internal/external partners to promote STD prevention strategies and control the outbreak of common STDs. These partners include the CDC, community-based organizations, tribal health departments, and Arizona medical providers.
The Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Program is another important initiative to reduce STD incidence in Yuma County. This initiative offers diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up services to infected individuals. All county residents are eligible to receive these services in the STD clinic for $25.00 per visit, including chlamydia and gonorrhea testing.
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.