Across the United States, three of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are on the rise. According to the latest data, despite implementing statewide counter-STDs measures, Louisiana remains one of the high rankers in rising STDs cases.
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.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Innerbody.com's year 2018 report, Louisiana is among the top three states reporting high numbers of gonorrhea, primary/secondary syphilis, congenital syphilis, and chlamydia cases.
Despite the numerous preventive health care options available, Americans are currently using preventive services at approximately half the suggested rate. It is worth noting that infectious diseases, especially those contracted through sexual activity, are easily preventable if only people start focusing on preventive measures and early diagnosis. This is possible by regularly testing for STDs.
CDC reported that 2017 was a catastrophic year for the US as the greatest number of cases were reported. Rates of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis (primary and secondary), have been continually inclining for the past five years even though treatment options are widely available. The biggest barrier to early diagnosis is that people don't get tested for STDs due to cultural issues, the stigma associated with STDs, and simply because of lack of awareness.
If left untreated, STDs can cause several life-threatening health conditions. For instance, Syphilis can cause paralysis, dementia, and blindness in adults. Congenital syphilis is strongly associated with stillbirths and physical/mental deformities among newborns, including mental retardation or hearing loss. Untreated gonorrhea and chlamydia can cause cervical cancer, long-term abdominal or pelvic pain, infertility, and increased vulnerability to getting HIV.
Anyone sexually active is at the risk of contracting an STD. However, some groups are particularly at risk, including bisexual men, gay, pregnant females, and young people aged 13-24. According to the 2018 report from Health Testing Centers, STD rates have reached record highs in the US and don't seem to be slowing down. Therefore, it is now every American's responsibility to take testing seriously and take precautions. Most STDs and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) are treatable but go unnoticed because of a lack of symptoms. That's why testing is vital to the safety and wellness of you and your partner, regardless if you take precautions or not.
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Louisiana provides a clear reflection of the ongoing STDs epidemic in the country. One of the reasons why STD cases are on a rise in the state and nationally is that previously there were many federally funded testing facilities/clinics offering tests and treatment opportunities to vulnerable groups of population, particularly those who couldn't afford STD testing. However, today, the testing and treatment is in the hand of primary-care physicians who usually lack specialized training and resources to offer high quality STD prevention and care. Federal funding has received many cuts over the years, and the state has to take the burden of implementing measures to curb the number of STD cases. Louisiana's health care system is too fragmented to address the STD epidemic appropriately.
Still, the state is concerned about controlling the STD rates. In the past three years, Louisiana has taken many steps to reduce the incidence of congenital syphilis.
In 2014, the state government made it mandatory for pregnant females to undergo screening for congenital syphilis in the first and third trimesters. In 2016, the state introduced a case study program, which reviewed every case of congenital syphilis.
In 2018, the Department of Health started delivering penicillin to women who tested positive for syphilis or connected them with a trained physician to undergo proper treatment.
Moreover, the state has integrated the regional STD/HIV and HIV/STD/Hepatitis C testing task forces to identify local resources, gaps, and barriers to testing and address the issues. This has helped considerably in preventing STDs from spreading. The Louisiana Department of Health also initiated a home visiting program to inspect at-risk moms and their babies born with congenital syphilis. It is an incredibly innovative program launched to educate Louisiana residents to encourage timely screening and treatment of STDs. In 2018-19, Louisiana's rate of STD cases declined slightly due to the statewide efforts from the Louisiana Department of Health.
Louisiana has a high rate of STDs, reports CDC. The state had the highest rate of syphilis cases in the country, with 61 cases per 100,000 people in 2017. The number may seem small, but it suggests that in 2017, around 3,000 residents in the state suffered from syphilis. On the other hand, the national average for syphilis was 31.4 cases/100,000 residents.
Chlamydia is another common STD that residents in Louisiana are struggling with. CDC states that Louisiana has the 2nd highest number of chlamydia cases in the country, with a shopping 742.4 cases/100,000 people. In contrast, the national average is 528.8 cases/100,000 residents.
As far as gonorrhea is concerned, data reveals that Louisiana has the 3rd highest rate of gonorrheal infections with 256.7 cases/100,000 people, which is significantly higher than the national average (171 cases/100,000 people). The standards were higher than the national averages in all three most common STDs, namely chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
According to the 2015 statistics from the Louisiana Department of Health, there were 32,305 new chlamydia diagnoses per 100,000 residents, 72% of whom were females and 28% males. Moreover, the African-American population accounted for the highest number of cases. Reportedly, 73% of the overall chlamydial infections were reported in blacks, 22% in whites, and 3% in Hispanics/Latinos. Around 33% of the diagnoses were reported in people below 20 years and 38% in people between 20 and 24. 16% of the reported chlamydia cases were recorded among people aged between 25 and 29 years, and 13% were above 30.
Louisiana reported 10,274 new gonorrheal diagnoses in 2015 with a rate of 221 cases/100,000 people. Out of these, 54% were females and 46% males who got diagnosed with chlamydia. Around 81% of the diagnoses were reported in the African-American community, 16% among white, and 2% in Hispanics. The most at-risk demographic group in Louisiana was people aged 20-24, as they had 36% of all diagnoses, followed by people under the age of 20 with 29% of all gonorrhea diagnoses. 18% of diagnoses were recorded in people aged 25 or above.
In Louisiana, around 35% of the population is black, and it is the worst affected demographic group in the state. Blacks accounted for about 75% of all primary and secondary syphilis diagnoses in Louisiana during 2013 and 2014, and 78% in 2015. Comparatively, 22% of the reported primary and syphilis cases were white in 2015, which decreased slightly to 20% in 2015. Between 2013 and 2014, around 2% of Hispanics reportedly were diagnosed with primary and secondary syphilis, and the figure declined to 1% in 2015.
According to Louisiana's sex education law, public schools aren't necessarily required to teach sex education. It is upon the discretion of the local school board to decide about it. Furthermore, it is mandatory in Louisiana that the sex education curriculum emphasizes abstinence until marriage as the suggested and acceptable method to prevent pregnancy or STDs. Abortion, as a topic, is strictly avoided.
Another interesting aspect is that in Louisiana, it is necessary that abortion is taught within another subject like biology, and a separate class cannot be conducted on this subject. From kindergarten to sixth grade, sex education is not permitted except in Orleans Parish, which allows sex education in the third grade. However, the school board must determine the grade level from when to provide sex education beyond sixth grade.
Schools cannot provide resource materials or give out contraceptives that may depict explicit homosexual acts. Louisiana also doesn't address topics like HIV or STD prevention through sexual education. Local agencies are authorized to select and approve the curriculum for sexual health. Parents or guardians have the right to opt-out students from the sex-education program as well as STD prevention instruction.