Idaho State recorded an alarming rise in the rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), particularly in chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. It is essential to understand the gravity of the situation and address this issue because sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause long-term health consequences, including infertility, if not treated at the right time.
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.
STIs are generally contagious infections transmitted via the exchange of bodily fluids like blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and/or saliva. These can be transmitted even without having sexual intercourse by exchanging body fluid or skin-to-skin contact. Whoever is sexually active must get tested for STIs frequently, at least once a year. Many infections don’t show any signs or symptoms but can cause chronic health conditions, including cancer and infertility.
The ideal way to avoid such drastic consequences is to regularly practice safe sex and get screened for STIs. Safe sexual practices include avoiding sexual activities that involve penetration, using condoms and contraceptives. Also, make sure your sexual partner(s) should be tested for STIs and observe signs of an STD like warts, genital rashes, abnormal discharge, or sores.
The best way forward is to get regularly tested for STIs before these turn into STDs. It is a crucial aspect of your and your partner’s better sexual health. Usually, infection occurs without any noticeable side effects, making it even more important to talk to your doctor about receiving regular testing. If diagnosed at the right time, STDs can be successfully treated, and if left untreated, it can lead to severe health consequences.
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Idaho has some of the country’s lowest prevalence of STDs among all the states. It ranked relatively low nationally for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. In 2017, around 6,200 people were diagnosed with chlamydia in Idaho, giving the state a rate of 368 cases/100,000 people after population adjustment. This was the 7th lowest rate in all 50 US states. However, compared to the 2012 rate, the number of chlamydia cases in Idaho has increased by 30%.
Regarding gonorrhea, the state reportedly had the 4th lowest number of cases among all US states, which was around one-third of the overall national rate. Idaho’s gonorrhea rate was around 80% lower than Mississippi, which had the highest rate of gonorrhea in 2017. Over the years, the gonorrheal infection has exploded all across Idaho as its rate has gone up by over 450% since 2012.
After population adjustment, Idaho’s rate of primary and secondary syphilis cases was the country’s 11th lowest and over 80% less than Nevada’s levels, which had the highest rate of syphilis in 2017. But, the state has recorded over a 440% increase in syphilis cases since 2014.
In Idaho, chlamydia trachomatis infection is the most widely prevalent STD, and the infection rate is the highest among people between the ages of 15 and 24.
The incidence rate of gonorrhea infection in Idaho rose to alarming levels between 2015 and 2016, accounting for 36 infections per 100,000 people. This was the highest reported infection rate in the past thirty years, as in 1968, just 68 infections/100,000 people were reported. Like chlamydia, gonorrheal infections are also commonly reported among young Idahoans.
Around two-thirds of infections are reported among people aged 15-29 years, and over 50% of all infections in 2016-2017 occurred in people aged 20-29 years of age. The rate of gonorrhea cases in south-central Idaho marked a 203% increase in 2016-17, whereas, in southeast Idaho, the rate decreased approx. 14%.
The incidence rate of early syphilis reported during 2015 and 2016 was about five infections in every 100,000 people annually, significantly less than either chlamydia or gonorrhea. (Early syphilis is when the infection has been happening for less than 12 months.) However, recent reports of early syphilis in Idaho are higher today than in 20 years. The increases over the last two years can be attributed to an ongoing outbreak of syphilis in Southwest Idaho and steady incremental increases in the number of early syphilis infections reported among Idahoans in other areas of the state.
The state recorded a syphilis outbreak in 2014, which affected residents of Canyon and Ada counties and contributed to the high number of infections diagnosed in 2015-16. Syphilis, if left untreated, can lead to deafness, blindness, meningitis, dementia, and paralysis.
In 2016, 6,706 cases of STD infections were reported in Idaho. This means roughly 4 infections/1,000 Idahoans. However, the primary issue of concern for the Idaho State government is that the rate of STDs has been rising among teens and young adults across the state. Reportedly, Idahoans aged 15-29 are the most vulnerable group for chlamydia and gonorrhea infections. Over three-quarters of chlamydia cases and around two-thirds of gonorrhea cases were diagnosed in 15-29-year-old Idahoans. Moreover, early syphilis and HIV infections affected a wider age range in the state.
About one in every ten syphilis infections during 2016 were reported in men, accounting for 86% of all cases. Compared to gonorrhea and chlamydia, early syphilis infections were highly prevalent among people aged 20-34. Over half of all infections, reportedly, were among the same age group, and one-third of syphilis cases were diagnosed in people aged 25-34 years.
In 2015, the state had the 38th highest rate of chlamydia diagnoses among people age 15–19 in the country, with an infection rate of 1,452 cases/100,000 people. There were around 1,666 chlamydia cases in people between the age 15-19. The state had the 49th highest rate of reported gonorrhea cases among the same age group compared to the national average, with an infection rate of 47.1 cases/100,000.
Also, in 2015, 54 gonorrhea cases were reported among young people aged 15–19 in Idaho. Furthermore, regarding syphilis, the state had the 46th highest rate of primary and secondary syphilis cases, but just 1 case was identified in 15–19 age group.
In 2015, around 30% of female high schoolers and 29% of male students reported being sexually active, which was higher than the national average of 29% female and 30% male high schoolers. About 29% of Hispanic high schoolers and 30% of whites in Idaho, reportedly, were sexually active, whereas 30% of Hispanics and 30.3% of white high schoolers in the country reportedly were sexually active.
Around 40% of white high school students reported not using condoms. Approximately 2.6% of whites and 5.3% of Hispanic high school students reported having sexual intercourse before turning 13; 91.2% of female high school students and 92% of male students in Idaho reported never been tested for HIV, while 91% of Hispanics and 91.8% of white high schoolers reported never been tested for HIV.
The top priorities of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare are to improve outreach and ensure comprehensive STD education. Part of its efforts is health districts across the state and community business organizations. The department continually launches STD prevention and awareness initiatives despite the reduction in national funding for such programs.
There are seven health districts in Idaho, all of which work closely with the state health department to offer to fund for education and outreach, training assistance, and increase testing resources for the districts. By collaborating with community-based organizations in Idaho, the department offers free testing opportunities to individuals and free condoms to the districts. It also provides training on STDs so that health care professionals can determine local and national trends and get familiar with any new treatment options.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers school-based HIV/STD prevention programs, which include initiatives like providing funding and technical assistance to local and state educational agencies via different funding streams. CDC’s program aims to ensure better student health, collect/report data on risk behaviors of young people, implement HIV/STD prevention programs, and expand capacity-building.
In 2017, the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) provided funding to 18 state education agencies and 17 school districts to help them strengthen student health via exemplary sexual health education (ESHE). This includes a more profound emphasis on HIV and STD prevention strategies, increased access to critical sexual health services, and establishing safe and supportive environments for students and staff. To achieve these goals, DASH funded six NGOs to help state and local educational agencies.
Moreover, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare manages the state’s PREP grant along with eight sub-grantees. The programming takes place in schools and community-based settings. Its main targets are students in grades 9-12, mainly Latinos aged between 12-18, and young people in rural areas in Ada, Minidoka, Gooding, Jefferson, Jerome, Kootenai, Latah Bingham, Blaine, Bonneville, Shoshone, Twin Falls, Canyon, Cassia, Elmore, Nez Perce, Owyhee, Payette, and Valley counties.