Maine is not counted among the high-risk states regarding the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STDs) and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and primary/secondary syphilis. Maine has relatively low rates of the three common STDs and is generally listed in the bottom ten states. However, this trend may change sooner or later because, much like the rest of the country, STD rates are increasing in Maine drastically.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention urges Mainers to get screened for STIs after recording a dramatic increase in Gonorrhea and Syphilis cases. At the same time, Chlamydia remains the most widespread STI in the state. It is important to note that STDs pose a significant threat to public health, particularly among young adults and adolescents, as they account for over half of all new STDs cases nationwide.
With early diagnosis, most STIs are easy to treat. However, if left untreated, there is a high risk of the infection getting transmitted to other individuals and can cause lasting health consequences, including male/female infertility, HIV 3 risk, and pregnancy-related complications.
STDs typically spread from one individual to another via sexual contact. It is a general observation that oftentimes infected individuals get mild to no symptoms because most STDs are asymptomatic. That’s why it is such a great challenge to control the spread of the infection, and the rates are increasing steadily. Most individuals are unaware of their sexual health status as they seldom get tested for STDs and spread the virus to their partner(s).
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There’s a considerably alarming rise in reported STDs in Maine and a dire need to intensify screening and prevention efforts. However, the changes implemented in federal Title X funding might make it difficult for Mainers to receive adequate STD testing services. Hence, Maine is well aware that it has to continue funding for these services and reinforce outreach efforts to vulnerable people.
Maine’s CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) not only offers funding to educate Mainers regarding the risks associated with STDs transmission but also contacts sex partners of those who have tested positive for reportable STDs. The goal is to ensure that a maximum number of partners of at-risk individuals are tested and treated.
The Maine Health Equity Alliance is responsible for testing for diseases transmitted via blood through shared needles for injecting drugs. Although the department doesn’t test for syphilis, it may include it in the list soon.
The Maine HIV, STDs, and Viral Hepatitis Program aim to curb the spread of STDs, viral hepatitis, and HIV, reduce fatality rates due to these infectious diseases, and promote well-being in a high-risk population.
The Maine STD Program is launched with funding from the federal government. This program oversees activities affecting the reportable STDs and works closely with other federally funded HIV Programs to assist with particular follow-up activities regarding HIV.
Furthermore, it is responsible for performing disease surveillance for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, and following up with disease intervention specialists regarding treatment verification, and providing anonymous partner services for all diseases.
Infertility Prevention Project is yet another significant initiative launched by Maine targeting 15-24 years old females. It also offers to fund for chlamydia and gonorrhea screening/treatment to women 15-24 if necessary and also for aged 25 and above if they qualify.
Maine Family Planning Prevention Program is designed to promote youth sexual and reproductive health by strengthening sex education in the community and school. Its responsibilities include offering technical assistance, professional development opportunities, and innovative resources to leaders working with K-12 students to improve reproductive/sexual health outcomes.
Overall, the reported cases of the three common STDs are lower in Maine than the national averages. Still, the growth rates are outpacing them rapidly. Reportedly, in Maine, gonorrhea cases rose nearly 200% between 2014 and 2018, while syphilis cases have risen by 600% in the same time frame. Chlamydia is the most common STD in the state, and syphilis has the greatest increment rate statewide.
Maine recorded a sharp increase in reported cases of all three STDs between 2007 and 2017, with chlamydia increasing from 192 to 342, gonorrhea from 8.9 to 46.6, and syphilis rising from 0.7 to 4.9 per 100,000 people. In 2015, the state recorded 3,993 chlamydia cases, substantially higher than 2010's 2,586 cases. Gonorrhea, meanwhile, rose to 550 cases per 100,000 people in 2016 from 422 in 2015.
As per the recent statistics by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 80 cases of syphilis were reported in 2017, up from 48 cases reported in 2016 and an average of at least 20 cases increasing annually in the past five years. In 2017, Maine had the 4th lowest rate of chlamydia cases in all 50 states after population adjustment with 342 cases/100,000 people.
The state, reportedly, boasts the 3rd-lowest gonorrhea rate in the USA and is one of nine states where gonorrhea rates are below 100 per 100,000 people. But after recording a considerable decline in gonorrhea cases by 2015, Maine’s number of cases climbed every year until 2020.
Between 2014 and 2017, Maine observed over a 160% increase in the number of gonorrhea cases. Moreover, the state’s primary/secondary syphilis rate is much lower as it ranked 36 in the overall 50 states back in 2017 with 4.9 cases/100,000 people. Syphilis prevalence in Maine has increased gradually and is up by 270% since 2012.
According to the 2005 statistics published by the Maine Department of Health, people aged 24 or below were disproportionally impacted by chlamydia across the state and accounted for 3-quarters of all cases that year. The trend has continued ever since, as even today, the 15-24 age group is among the high-risk population regarding chlamydial infection rate.
In Maine, females report more diagnoses in chlamydia compared to males. In 2005 females comprised 73% of all chlamydia cases. But this doesn’t mean females got infected more than males. Their number is higher because the STDs screening rate was much higher in female Mainers than males. The rate of STD infection in 15-19-year-old Mainers has been on the rise since 2005, but still, rates are low compared to overall national rates as it is still half of the US rates.
On the other hand, the gonorrhea infection rate is higher in older Mainers, and the most impacted age group is 20-29, while it is a general trend that males had more than half of the overall gonorrhea diagnoses. This higher proportion of male diagnoses could be attributed to MSM (males who have sex with males) as they account for over one-quarter of all reported cases of gonorrhea.
Southern Maine counties bear the biggest burden of STDs in terms of numbers, according to the state’s STD program. In 2008, males accounted for 756 or 29% of all chlamydia cases and 53 or 55% of all gonorrhea cases, whereas females accounted for 1,838 or 71% and 43 or 45%, respectively. As far as ethnicities are concerned, Whites recorded a higher number of diagnoses with 2,005 chlamydia cases (77%) and 73 gonorrhea cases back in 2008 (76%). African-Americans were the second most affected ethnic group with 121 or 5% of all chlamydia cases and 17 or 18% of all gonorrhea cases reported in 2008.
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.