The Commonwealth of Kentucky has relatively low rates of common, reportable sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including chlamydia, gonorrhea, and primary/secondary syphilis. However, the rates of all these three STDs are on the rise lately. Still, as per 2018-19 statistics, Kentucky is among the least affected states in the USA as far as common STDs are concerned.
Believe it or not, untreated STDs pose a serious threat to your reproductive health and overall health. These infections can transform into diseases and cause long-term, drastic health consequences such as male/female infertility, cervical cancer among females, and pelvic inflammatory disease.
Considering the rising rates of STDs in Kentucky, including previously considered rare infections in this region, such as syphilis and gonorrhea, it is important to be mindful of your choices. The young population is at a higher risk of contracting STIs because, as per the CDC, around 2.4 million new cases of STDs were reported nationwide in 2017, and nearly 40% of infected individuals were aged 15 to 25. This could be attributed mainly to young people engaging in risky sexual behavior.
Similarly, the rate of newborn death has increased across the state as they catch syphilis from their mothers. In most Southern States, congenital syphilis increased from 360 in 2013 to over 916 in 2017. Ironically, all common STDs are treatable and preventable if only you adopt safe sex practices and get yourself tested every year.
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In Kentucky, STDs are regarded as a public health crisis, and the rates are inclining when the state is dealing with the opioid epidemic. In the past five years, the rate of STDs has included by 30%, while funding has declined significantly as the state’s attention is diverted towards the opioid issue.
“We are seeing an increasing number of syphilis and other STD outbreaks associated with the opioid crisis. As rates go up, funding has gone down. So while STDs have increased by 30 percent in the last five years to reach an all-time high, the amount of federal money for prevention and education has consistently gone down since 2003, [which is] critical for states like Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio,” said the spokesperson for the National Coalition of STD Directors, Matt Prior.
Despite the decrease in funding, Kentucky state has launched several initiatives to deal with the STD crisis. the Kentucky Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention and Control Program’s primary goal is to prevent the spread and complexities associated with STDs. This initiative is designed to extend care provision and testing/treatment facilities across the state for common STDs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, genital herpes, trichomoniasis, and bacterial vaginosis (BV).
In Kentucky, local health departments are required to offer the testing facility for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis and provide treatment to people diagnosed with, exposed to, or at risk of getting an STD. Patients with other STDs/STIs will receive counseling about their condition and be referred to a healthcare provider to treat the disease. A service fee is charged, but the diagnosis is kept confidential.
However, if patients cannot pay, they won’t be denied testing or treatment opportunities, as per the state law. Moreover, according to state law, those who tested positive for an STD will mandatorily receive help from local health departments, and the care providers will follow up with them. The only condition patients need to abide by is getting tested regularly.
In Jefferson County, the state’s most badly affected area in STD rates, health officials are mandated to offer testing at local STD clinics. They may also visit local correctional facilities to serve those at-risk people who cannot access health care. Unlike other states where expedited partner therapy is allowed (according to which doctors can offer prescriptions to both partners even if one of them visits them), Kentucky prohibits this practice.
As per the year 2017-18 STD surveillance data, Kentucky ranked 40th among all US states in chlamydia rates, with 435 cases. This is way lower than the national chlamydia rate. But, it is worth noting that the number of chlamydia cases in the state has risen about 10% over the past five years. In 2012, Kentucky reported 394 cases, which increased to 389 in 2013, 400 in 2014, and 435 in 2017-18. Despite that, Kentucky has the 2nd lowest chlamydia rate among other Southern states.
Gonorrhea prevalence in the state is fairly low and puts the state in the middle nationally. After population adjustment, Kentucky’s gonorrhea rate was 167.2 per 100,000 people in 2017. But, reportedly, gonorrhea rates have increased over 70% across the state since 2012. In 2012, Kentucky reported 97 cases/100,000 people, which increased slightly to 98 in 2013, and 98.6 in 2014 but jumped to over 167 by 2017-18. Still, Kentucky ranked in the bottom quarter in the Southern region.
A similar trend is noted in syphilis cases. Its prevalence in the state varies widely, especially since the past six years. But, it is still among the 25 states with the lowest primary/secondary syphilis rates. Kentucky has the third-lowest rate overall in the country, with 5.9 cases reported in 2018. It is reported that the rate of syphilis infections in Kentucky has almost doubled compared to the rate in 2012. Syphilis rates reportedly increased by 62% from 2014 to 2017. The rates were highest in Jefferson County during 2017-2018 with 46 cases/100,000 people, twice more than the statewide average of 16 cases. Jefferson County also recorded the highest number of gonorrhea cases, with 361/100,000 people.
According to the 2013 Kentucky Minority Health Status Report, the rates of STDs vary by disease, ethnicity, and race in the state. National statistics reflect that racial/ethnic minorities make up the largest share of STDs. In contrast, in Kentucky, the rates of chlamydia and syphilis are higher among whites, whereas gonorrhea cases are highest among the black population. On the other hand, Hispanics reported the lowest rates of all three common STDs between 2009 and 2013.
Similarly, teen pregnancy rates are constantly declining in whites, blacks, and Hispanics in Kentucky. Overall, teen pregnancy rates are higher among blacks and Hispanics compared to whites.
Interestingly, in this state, Hispanic and black populations are younger than whites and are more likely not to own homes, earn less, and lack health insurance. But, in terms of high school graduation, Asians, blacks, whites all have similar standing.
Kentucky health officials claim that opioid and meth abuse has contributed significantly to rising STD rates statewide, but it broke all previous records in 2017. Opioid users are at a higher risk of contracting infectious diseases because they are more prone to engaging in unsafe sexual behavior, such as having unprotected sex.
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.