In 2018, the state of Illinois reported a sharp incline in the number of common, reportable sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) cases. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis were declared the top three STDs statewide. Young adults and adolescents were disproportionally impacted by chlamydia and gonorrhea, while men who have sex with men (MSM) were most impacted by syphilis. Black non-Hispanics were disproportionally affected by the three STDs.
It is estimated that there are around 20 million new STD cases reported every year in the USA, and out of these new infections, around half are young people aged 15-24. This indicates that the country's youth is in dire need of sexual health counseling. It is important to note that most STDs can be diagnosed and treated easily. the problem is that STDs generally are asymptomatic, which means their symptoms are very mild and unnoticeable. That's why people remain unaware of their sexual health condition and develop more chronic forms of the STDs, such as HIV and AIDS.
Untreated syphilis causes blindness, mental illness, arthritis, heart disease, and even death, whereas unborn babies can develop congenital syphilis if the mother is infected and untreated. Untreated chlamydia infections can cause health complications like pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and ectopic pregnancy. Similarly, untreated gonorrhea can cause anal, penis, mouth, eyes, uterus, throat, and urinary tract infection. This makes STDs testing highly important for people of all ages and ethnicities. In fact, every sexually active individual, regardless of their age or gender, should get screened for STDs and make it a mandatory part of their annual health checkup.
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According to the Illinois state STD surveillance report 2018, the rate of chlamydia in the state was 602.7 per 100,000 people, and the state reported over 77,320 cases that year, which is why it was ranked 9th in the 50 US states for chlamydia incidences.
The same report suggests that the gonorrhea rate in the state was 198 per 100,000 people, with over 25,420 cases reported in 2018, making the state 16th most badly affected US state out of the 50 states regarding gonorrhea rates. The rate of primary/secondary syphilis in Illinois was 110 per 100,000 people, and the state reported 1,408 cases overall. It was the 13th most impacted state in the USA regarding the number of syphilis cases.
Another alarming situation was noted in the rate of congenital syphilis, which was over 19 cases per 100,000 live births, and 29 cases were reported overall. The rate of congenital syphilis was higher among black non-Hispanics in 2018, with over 14 cases identified per 100,000 live births in this community. Moreover, the white non-Hispanic population reported 2 cases of congenital syphilis per 100,000 live births, and Hispanics reported 2.7 cases/100,000 live births in Illinois.
According to Illinois Department of Public Health, chlamydia is the most commonly reported STI (sexually transmitted infection) in Illinois, with approximately 65,000 cases reported every year statewide. In Illinois, at least 17,000 gonorrhea cases are reported annually. Syphilis is the most commonly reported STI among males, specifically MSM, and every year the state records 1,600 syphilis cases.
In Illinois, chlamydia rates are noticeably higher in the female population than males, with 760.8 cases/100,000 females and 437.9 cases/100,000 males in 2018. The state's annual STD surveillance report revealed that females make up a larger chunk of all chlamydia cases reported in Illinois each year, and in 2018, over 64.3% of chlamydial infections were reported among females while males reported 35.6% of all cases.
It is worth noting that chlamydia rates disproportionally impact the black non-Hispanic community than any other racial group in Illinois. Blacks reported 1,747.1 cases/100,000 black population while black Hispanics reported 572.5 cases/100,000 people. white non-Hispanics reported 221.2 cases/100,000 people, and 535.8 cases per 100,000 population were diagnosed among American Indian/Alaskan Native.
The 15-19-year age group and the 20-24-year-old people reported the highest number of chlamydia cases with 2,225.7 per 100,000 and 3,212.1 per 100,000 population, respectively, and comprised over 63% of cases in 2018.
For several years, Illinois recorded a balance between male and female gonorrhea rates, but from 2017 onwards, males started reporting higher rates. In 2018, male population reported 244 cases/100,000 people compared to 153.9 cases/100,000 female population. Males accounted for over 60%, and females reported 39.6% of all gonorrhea cases.
In 2018, the black non-Hispanic population reported a higher number of cases with 751.4 cases/100,000 people, American Indian/Alaskan Native non-Hispanics reported 212.2 cases/100,000 people, and Hispanics reported 126.2 cases per 100,000 population. White non-Hispanics reported 64.5 cases/100,000 people. The most affected age groups regarding gonorrheal infection rate were the 15-19-year-olds, 20-24-year-olds, and the 25-29-year-olds with 526.7, 858.9, and 631.7 cases per 100,000 population, respectively.
Primary and secondary syphilis was more common among males than females, with the former reporting 20.5 cases/100,000 males compared to 1.8 cases/100,000 females. Black non-Hispanics reported the highest number of infections with a rate of 29.7/100,000 people, followed by American Indian/Alaskan Native non-Hispanics with 21.2/100,000 people and 15.5 cases/100,000 were reported in Hispanics.
Around 5.3 cases per 100,000 population were reported in white non-Hispanics. No single age group was more affected by syphilis in Illinois, but 20-24, 25-29, and 30-34-year-olds reported the highest number of cases.
Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Section Outbreak Plan is developed to encourage coordinated efforts between local health jurisdictions and the IDPH STD Section to respond to rising rates of STDs in Illinois (excluding Chicago). The department is responsible for maintaining the outbreak plan, memos, and template memos stored on the IDPH shared network drive. The state's 97 certified local health departments have to conduct initial surveillance and get involved in direct case management activities. These health departments serve 100 out of 102 counties in Illinois. In the two remaining counties, these services are offered by the STD Section directly. Moreover, the STD section Surveillance and Evaluation Coordinator (SEC) has to identify, track, and coordinate responses to outbreaks with the Syphilis Prevention Coordinator (SPC) guidance.
The Illinois Ryan White Part B Program under the Ryan White CARE Act is authorized to examine and offer treatment to STD cases to prevent their progression into HIV. The funding is administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and the program is responsible for providing uninsured, low-income, and under-insured HIV-positive individuals in Illinois access to supportive services.
Several counties have their dedicated STD programs, such as the Lake County STI/HIV program is designed to provide comprehensive care/prevention services to at-risk populations. HIV counseling/testing, clinical services for STIs, and treatments to people diagnosed with an STI. Furthermore, risk reduction counseling, syphilis/gonorrhea/chlamydia screening, and health education is also provided to county residents.
The Getting to Zero Illinois (GTZ-IL) is a 5-year comprehensive plan to end the HIV/STD epidemic in Illinois by 2030. The plan includes goals/strategies devised to reduce new HIV transmissions and help Illinois get to a functional zero rate of HIV/STDs. The program offers services to treat co-occurring conditions, including screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and vaccination against infectious diseases.
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.