New Hampshire is among those US states where sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) rates are low. It usually ranks among the bottom states in chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea, the top three most common reportable STDs in the USA. However, despite these STDs having remained less common in New Hampshire, a disturbing trend is noticed statewide where there has been a consistent rise in STD rates over the past four years.
Getting tested is highly imperative for all sexually active individuals regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, or social status. It is one of the best and most crucial things you can do to ensure optimum sexual health and your partner's (s) well-being.
Apart from getting tested, it is essential to have an open and honest conversation with your GP/Doctor regarding your sexual history and determine the frequency of STDs testing you need to undergo.
STDs are contagious diseases and can be passed from one individual to another through sexual contact, skin-to-skin contact, sharing of needles, blood transfusion, etc. If a pregnant female suffers from primary/secondary (P&S) syphilis, the disease can be passed on to their unborn baby, which is a condition known as congenital syphilis.
If you don't get tested regularly, the STD may get unnoticed as most of them are asymptomatic. Untreated STDs can cause chronic health issues such as male/female infertility, fallopian tube blockage, tubal pregnancy, newborn deaths, miscarriage, and genital cancers. Moreover, it can also encourage human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission, and if HIV remains undetected, it causes a life-threatening condition known as Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Therefore, it is essential to get tested for STDs.
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In New Hampshire, the P&S syphilis rate was 1.4 cases identified per 100,000 individuals in 2011, which increased to 3 cases per 100,000 in 2015. the state ranked 37th in P&S syphilis rates among 50 US states, revealed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) annual state profile. The same analysis suggested that the state had a low tendency of congenital syphilis as just one case was diagnosed between 2011 and 2015. Regarding chlamydia and gonorrhea diagnoses, New Hampshire ranked 50th in 2015 in the list of US states with the most chlamydial and gonorrheal infections with over 233 chlamydia diagnoses and 18.5 gonorrhea diagnoses per 100,000 people.
Since 2015, a 17% increase in chlamydia cases has been observed and a 103% spike in the rate of syphilis. However, a startling observation was made regarding gonorrhea as a 352% explosion in cases was recorded within 2016-2019. According to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, STD rates have swelled considerably since 2018.
The state is experiencing a gonorrhea outbreak as new cases were up by a staggering 250% in 2016. It is worth noting that between 2007 and 2013, on average, the state reported 130 cases of gonorrhea per 100,000 population. In 2016, the state health department received reports of 465 gonorrhea cases, representing over 250% increment in gonorrhea incidences. State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan states that these numbers are highly concerning.
"New Hampshire historically has had one of the lowest rates of gonorrhea infections in the country; however, over the last year, we have seen a significant increase in the number of reported cases," Chan noted. In 2017, the state experienced over 520 new gonorrhea cases, while chlamydia stands at 3,686 cases, and syphilis cases being relatively low compared to other states.
As per the New Hampshire STD/HIV Surveillance Report 2015-2019, the reported chlamydia rates among women in New Hampshire were around two times higher than men, with 311.2 cases and 153 cases per 100,000 people, respectively. Chlamydia case counts remained stable on the whole, whereas gonorrhea and syphilis rates kept fluctuating during this period. People under the age of thirty and females of all ages represented the most affected population in this context.
Furthermore, the highest rates of chlamydia prevalence were traditionally found in the southern parts of the state, but lately, the rates have remained widely dispersed, particularly between 2018-2019.
On the other hand, gonorrhea was most commonly reported among people aged 20 to 39 years. However, unlike the case with chlamydia, gonorrheal infection largely affected the male population of New Hampshire. Hillsborough County, mainly the City of Manchester, was the most affected region in gonorrhea prevalence.
Regarding P&S syphilis, case counts remained stable between 2012 and 2015, but an increase was observed in 2016, and in 2017 the state government declared a syphilis outbreak across the region. In 2018, New Hampshire reported one congenital syphilis case and two cases in 2019, the first congenital syphilis cases reported in the state since 2013. Infectious syphilis was widely prevalent among gay, bisexual males and men who had sex with men. In addition to this, males living with HIV were also disproportionately impacted by infectious syphilis.
It is noted that females are more likely to get diagnosed with chlamydia in New Hampshire than males. This could be because women get screened more regularly, and the frequency of symptoms among them is higher than males. In New Hampshire, the rates of men undergoing screening for chlamydia are pretty low.
Furthermore, the state has reported higher diagnoses rates among ethnic/racial minorities, including Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic Individuals, compared to Asian, White, and Multiracial individuals. The disparities between white women and women of color are significant as in 2017 chlamydia rates were nearly five times higher among black women than white.
New Hampshire's Infectious Disease Prevention, Investigation & Care Services initiative aims to prevent illness, disability, or death due to infectious diseases. This program is responsible for the provision of recommendations to prevent the spread and distribution of infectious diseases. Moreover, it focuses on encouraging patient-provider education, disease outbreak investigation, and financial assistance. However, it must be noted that the Infectious Disease Prevention, Investigation & Care Services initiative is a broad program that administers several other programs. These include STD Prevention, HIV Prevention, Infectious Disease Investigation, New Hampshire Ryan White Care, Viral Hepatitis, Public Health, and Education Detailing program, etc.
Though the state has Planned Parenthood-funded clinics that offer low-cost STD testing facilities, the program has seen a 25% decrease in its operating budget due to an interruption in federal funding and state-backed funding. This has drastically affected the state's STD testing rates as diagnosis conditions, and treatment services have reduced significantly. The funding cutback has impacted uninsured people the most.
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.