In New York State (NY), the number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea, have been rising steadily for the past five years. In 2017, the state reportedly had over 119,570 chlamydia cases, 37,262 gonorrhea cases, and 2,650 primary and secondary syphilis cases.
These numbers indicate an increase across the region. Since 2017, the state has observed a 2.4% increase in Chlamydia, a 9.3% increase in gonorrhea, and a 12.7% increase in syphilis cases. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, the number of syphilis cases in NY is rising after witnessing a substantial decline between 1940s-to-early 2000s. There's a dire need for federal, state, and local STD prevention initiatives to promote sexual, reproductive, maternal/parental, and newborn/infant health to reduce STD incidence.
Getting tested for STDs should be an important part of every sexually active individual regardless of gender, age, or cultural disparity. It is a crucial aspect of one's welfare, particularly when it comes to sexual health.
In NY, health officials find it difficult to detect STDs among those who do not undergo proper testing, diagnosis, and treatment. Most people are either unaware of their health condition or ignore the various symptoms that indicate an underlying sexual health issue. The sudden rise of syphilis, especially congenital syphilis, isn't an arbitrary event per se but a sign of the ongoing public neglect towards this epidemic and the deteriorating public health infrastructure within the state.
According to the CDC, symptoms of STDs don't appear right away. If left undetected or untreated, STDs often lead to serious health conditions, including cervical cancer, infertility, AIDS, and long-term STDs.
CDC recommends that testing should be a priority for every individual aged 13 or above, even if they haven't had any sexual activity in a while. Those who regularly have unprotected sex, have been sexually active recently, have more than one partner, have a new partner, or witness any unusual symptoms, must get tested immediately.
There's no need to feel wary or anxious about STDs testing. Most of these tests are performed quickly, and results arrive within a few minutes. Rapid HIV and STD test only require a swab in the mouth, while others require a urine sample. No needles are involved in an STD test. Since not all annual wellness exams include testing for STDs, it is your responsibility to ask to be tested. Some STDs may not even show symptoms and remain unnoticeable even for months or years. Therefore, testing is the only way of knowing whether you have an STD or not.
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In 1984, the AIDS Institute established the Community Service Programs (CSPs), NY's first community-based institution that provided HIV/STD/Hepatitis prevention facility and client support services.
The CSP was later renamed Regional Prevention and Support Programs. The institute receives funding from the state and serves as a foundation for strengthening the region's capacity to deal with the STDs crisis. The agency is responsible for building and expanding HIV/STD/HCV-related programs across NY.
The 14 RPSS providers have a significant role in implementing the AIDS Institute and Division of HIV/STD/HCV Prevention strategies. These also happen to be crucial partners in achieving the Ending the Epidemic goals. Ending the Epidemic (ETE) is a revolutionary initiative launched by the health ministry in 2014 to prevent HIV transmission rate by reducing the number of STDs cases across the region.
NY provides funding to the Regional Prevention and Support Programs for targeted client engagement, targeted HIV testing, linking the patients to care services, STD/HCV screening, behavioral counseling, and offering effective interventions for people living with HIV, their families.
Additionally, the agency provides guidance for HIV-negative people to prevent them from engaging in high-risk sexual behaviors. It is also the agency's responsibility to offer navigation and linkage to care and ensure comprehensive PrEP/PEP education and screening. Promoting condom use, educating HIV-positive individuals and their partners, easy access to condoms, treatment adherence, and additional supportive services such as transportation are also part of its plan.
The NY health department offers prevention interventions and client services in the criminal justice and community settings. It also addresses the needs of those living with HIV and those at risk of HIV/STD/HCV, including young men of color, men who have sex with men, heterosexual men, substance users, transgender males/females, and females engaged in high-risk behaviors. The department must offer supportive services after considering the unique cultural and social needs of the particular demography group.
Expected outcomes for 2020-2021 from state intervention strategies including reducing disease incidence, decreasing the rate of HIV/STD/HCV transmission, increasing the proportion of HIV/STD/HCV -positive people who are aware of their status, and increasing the proportion of infected people to prevention, treatment, and medical care services.
NY rate of syphilis and chlamydia is one of the highest in the United States, as per a report from the National Council for Home Safety and Security (NCHSS) using the year 2017 data provided by CDC STD Surveillance Report. CDC claims that several factors are responsible for increasing the rate of STDs in the state. These include limited access to STD prevention/care, cuts to programs at the state and local levels, and a decreased use of condoms. These issues continue to drive an increase in disease prevalence. Furthermore, about half of the STD infections are identified in people aged 15-24.
In NY, the primary and secondary syphilis rate in 2011 was 5.6/100,000 people, which rose to 10.2/100,000 by 2015. In 2015, the state ranked 7th in primary/secondary syphilis rates, 12th in overall chlamydia rate (524/100,000), and 16th in gonorrheal infections (129.4/100,000) among the 50 US states. Between 2011 and 2015, NY reported 66 cases of congenital syphilis.
Among females, the reported rate of chlamydial infection was over 650 cases/100,000 females. This rate was around 1.7 times higher than males that reported 389.8 cases/100,000 males.
By 2018, the number of STD cases increased considerably. CDC ranked NY 10th, 10,8th 10th, and 24th among the 50 US states for total chlamydia, gonorrhea, primary/secondary syphilis, and congenital syphilis diagnoses, respectively. The highest rates of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) in the state was noticed among the youth, bisexual, gay, and MSM (men who have sex with men).
As far as ethnicities are concerned, the largest share of new STD diagnoses was reported among non-Hispanic African-Americans. Moreover, chlamydia was the most commonly reported STI in the state with approx. 119,670 diagnoses, which is 2.4% higher than the 2017 statistics and the largest number of diagnoses since chlamydial infection became reportable in 2000. Females aged 15-24 were at the highest risk of getting infected with chlamydia.
By 2018, the rate of gonorrheal infection increased 9.4% with 37,322 diagnoses. The percentage of increase was higher among males than females with 10% and 5.6%, respectively. Moreover, males aged between 20 and 34 and females aged 15 and 24 reported the highest proportion of cases.
Primary/secondary syphilis diagnoses rose to 12.8% in 2018, and 93% of the cases were reported among males. Despite the overall higher rate of diagnoses among males, primary/secondary syphilis has quadrupled among females since 2014.
The Bronx was at number 1 both in NY's statewide and citywide comparison the higher rates for STIs with over 23,700 reported cases (1.903 cases/100,000 people). Brooklyn had the highest rate of STDs infection in the country. Out of 100,000 residents of Brooklyn, around 817.6 have chlamydia, 18.7 have syphilis, and 285.9 have a gonorrheal infection. Its number of chlamydia cases is the 6th highest in the country.
However, this data represents just a portion of the actual STDs burden in NY. Many syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia cases remain undiagnosed and hence, unreported. Many other STIs like genital herpes, human papillomavirus, and trichomoniasis aren't reported at all.
Young adults and teenagers are disproportionally affected by STDs in NY. Although this age group comprises around 14% of the NY population, it amounts to a considerable chunk of total STDs cases, with 3 out of 5 patients reported among the youth.
Most STDs can have serious health consequences if left untreated, and a majority of them are asymptomatic. That's why comprehensive sex education is fundamental to prevent the youth from getting STDs. Reportedly, by age 18, around 1 in 4 sexually active teenagers in NY will have an STD.
The NY law required all students from grades kindergarten to 12 to obtain health education. Students in higher grades are required to have HIV/AIDS lessons annually.
However, in NY, public schools aren't required by law to make sexual health education as it isn't a part of the New York State Education Department's (NYED) 's health education mandate. From grade k through 12, schools are expected to offer basic HIV/AIDS education, but offering sex-ed is left to local school districts.
As per the law, elementary school classroom instruction must include a sequential sex-ed program for all students. But state regulations haven't specified the feasible number of lessons or duration of instructional time. In 2011, the NYCDOE made sex-ed a mandatory part of educational courses in middle and high schools. NY required one credit or 54 hours of health education for middle schoolers and high schoolers from grades 9-12.
NY's sex-ed policy has a drawback. It only instructs teachers to offer such activities that contribute to students' development of self-worth, respect for their bodies and making constructive decisions about their emotional, social, and physical health. The focus of sex-ed in NY for lower grades is to encourage pupils to become self-reliant in resolving their health issues.
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.