Nebraska state has one of the country’s bottommost population-adjusted rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including chlamydia, primary/secondary syphilis, and gonorrhea, among all states. However, it is also one of those U.S. states where STD rates are steadily increasing over the past four years. If this trend continues, the state’s low STD burden may change.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that around 20%e of the entire U.S. population had an STI (sexually transmitted infection) in 2018, which means one in five individuals were infected. This indicates that STI testing and treatment cost the country’s healthcare system approximately $16 billion only in healthcare costs. Since most cases go unreported, and some infections like HPV (human papillomavirus) and genital herpes aren’t reported at all, the current STDs status only represents a fraction of the actual burden.
Untreated STDs can cause severe and long-lasting health consequences, particularly for young women and adolescent girls, mainly infertility. Chlamydia, the most commonly reported STD in the USA, and gonorrhea can cause scarring in the female reproductive system leading to pelvic inflammatory disease. This can cause ectopic pregnancy apart from increasing infertility risk. In males, STDs can also cause infertility, joint pain, organ failure, meningitis, a disease involving swelling of the brain’s lining, and liver inflammation.
If you want to avoid these chronic health consequences, it is essential to get tested regularly for STDs. Find a testing center/clinic near you and get you and your partner tested if you are sexually active.
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In 2017, fewer than 9,000 cases of chlamydia were reported in Nebraska, putting the state in 34th position among the 50 U.S. states after population adjustment. The state’s overall chlamydia rate was around 15% in 2017, which was considerably lower than the overall national rate. However, the chlamydial infection rate has gone up in the state every year since 2013 at 24%, which is an alarming situation.
On the other hand, the state’s gonorrhea infection rates after population adjustment were 20% lower than the national rate, and it ranked number 32 in the country. However, the infection rate of gonorrhea has steadily increased over the past four years. Since 2013, there has been a staggering 88% rise in the number of gonorrhea cases.
As far as primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis rate is concerned, Nebraska boasted the third-lowest rate, and its overall diagnoses rate was 76% lower than the national rate in 2017. A considerable decline in syphilis prevalence in the state between 2016 and 2017 was favorable. But, since 2012, the number of syphilis cases has risen by a dramatic 500% in the state.
As per the Nebraska STD program, the rate of chlamydia infection among females aged 20-44 was 116/100,000 women in 2013, and for the same group, the rate of gonorrhea infection was 166.5/100,000 females. Reportedly, the rate of chlamydia within Nebraska has considerably increased while gonorrheal infections have remained stable.
In Central Nebraska, a total of 6,892 chlamydia and gonorrhea cases were reported in 2006, and around 12.3% or 558 cases came from the central and western service areas, including Grand Island and Hastings.
Out of the 5,451 chlamydia cases in Nebraska, 13.5% were diagnosed in people between 15 and 24, and out of the 1,441 gonorrhea cases, 15.6% were diagnosed in people between 15 and 24. Most of the people impacted by chlamydia and gonorrhea in the state were white females.
TheSeniorList.com reported that there had been a significant increase in the rate of STDs among senior citizens in Nebraska. The study, which utilized the most recent data from CDC, revealed that the state ranked 44 with over 31 seniors diagnosed with an STD per 100,000 people in 2018-2019.
This means the problem is no longer limited to the younger population as STDs have become increasingly common in older Nebraskans. Moreover, there was a 161.4% increase in STDs in the state’s older citizens, including a 150% increase in HIV cases, a 92.7% increase in chlamydia, 364.7% increase in gonorrhea infections, and 600% increase in syphilis cases per 100,000 people. The state ranked number 44 in overall HIV infection rate, 45 in chlamydia infections, 42 in gonorrhea cases, and 27 in syphilis cases in 2018.
Lancaster County is reportedly the worst-hit region in Nebraska. The alarming aspect is that 15 to 20-year-olds made up almost half of all STD diagnoses in Lancaster County in 2018, claiming the county’s Health Department. Chlamydia was the highest reported STD in the county within the past three years. By the end of November 2018, there were nearly 1,600 STD cases in Lancaster County, and by the first half of 2019, the county reportedly had surpassed this figure already. The number of reported gonorrhea cases in 2009 was only 283 in this area, while during the first eleven months of 2019, the county reported over 550 cases.
CDC offers funding for STDs prevention in Nebraska. In 2018, it provided the state over $300,000 in funding. Non-profit organizations such as Family Health Services Inc. are also quite active in Nebraska. The organization offers STD testing facilities in most mainstream cities, including Lincoln.
The Lifespan Health Services Unit of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services implements the PREP state-grant program of the state. This program supports eight local projects to offer Teen Outreach Program to youth from 6-12 grades. The state’s health department helps in its implementation and ensures technical assistance and training to each local project.
Teen Outreach Program is an evidence-based youth development initiative aimed at engaging young Nebraskans in experiential learning activities to “prepare for successful adulthood and avoid problem behaviors.” Youth aged 12-17 can benefit from this program. It also focuses on reducing school failure/suspension rates and teen pregnancy rates.
The Nebraska AIDS Project is also a crucial program that offers a diverse range of services to control the spread of HIV/STDs. Its educational unit provides quality STD and HIV testing experience under the testing program. People can ask questions about the infectious diseases, learn their STD/HIV status the same day, and test for most common STDs for free, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, and P&S syphilis.
Through its counseling program, in-house training is provided to help to identify potential risks and find out risk reduction strategies. The project also offers free and confidential walk-in testing and counseling service to people above 13 years of age, comprising urine tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea and HIV tests is conducted before the STI test.
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.