North Carolina is among those U.S. states where cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including gonorrhea, herpes, chlamydia, and syphilis, are on the rise. Where some states criminalize the transmission of STDs, North Carolina, by law, doesn't. Instead, the state's law requires that anyone with HIV must comply with specific regulations to control the disease's spread. However, if an HIV infected person exposes another person to the virus, they could be charged with assault.
It is a fact that in North Carolina, fewer young people are indulging in early sex and teen pregnancy rates in the state are at historic lows. However, people in general and teens, in particular, are still contracting STDs in North Carolina. In fact, the state has been observing some of the highest gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis rates, according to the 2018-19 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It is important to note that any sexually active person can get an STD, as per CDC, so regular screening becomes so important. Moreover, STDs can be prevented by adopting the necessary preventive measures and early diagnosis through testing to help treat the disease timely. Women can be infected with syphilis when they are pregnant, and if it is not detected during the first trimester, the disease could be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of their unborn child.
CDC's STD Prevention Division director Gail Bolan stated that each baby born with syphilis indicates the failure of the whole system. Screening is the only way to detect STDs at the right time and prevent further damage.
Avoiding STDs is the responsibility of every individual living in a high-risk region, such as North Carolina. However, even using condoms to avoid them isn't a 100% effective prevention strategy, and you may still get the infection. Hence, every couple should get tested for STDs even if they do not feel any symptoms.
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North Carolina is one of the worst hit states as far as the rates of STDs are concerned. Innerbody.com identified in a study using CDC data from the year 2018 to rank states with the highest/lowest STD rates in the USA. North Carolina's rank was six among the ten high-risk states with the greatest number of cases. North Carolina had reported around 91 376 cases of STDs, which is an alarming situation for a state with roughly 10.3 million residents. This means the state has recorded 889 cases per 100,000 residents.
In North Carolina, the report claims there were over 66,500 cases of chlamydia, over 23,700 cases of gonorrhea, and around 1,100 syphilis cases recorded between 2017 and 2018,
As per the North Carolina 2019 annual STDs statistics, the number of chlamydia cases diagnosed in the state was 71,295, which means the disease impacts 679 people per 100,000. That's a considerable increment from the year 2018 number of cases. If we compare it with the 2015 data, there is a 20% increase in chlamydial infections as the total diagnoses were 39,798 in 2015. Among males, the diagnoses increase by 61%, primarily because men were screened more than women.
In 2019, the total reported gonorrhea cases were 26,643, which means the disease affected 254 people per 100,000 residents. This rate was 23,700 in 2018. In North Carolina, gonorrhea cases have been steadily inclining for the past few years. In 2015, the total number of reported gonorrhea cases was 17,051, at 170 per 100,000 people.
Gonorrhea cases increase more in females as the rate of diagnoses increased by 47% in 2019. The total number of cases in females was 8,570 in 2015, whereas in 2019, the figure jumped to 12,617. Among males, there was a 66% increase in gonorrhea diagnoses. In 2015, around 8,475 males were diagnosed with gonorrhea in North Carolina, and in 2019 nearly 14,026 men were diagnosed with the disease. In terms of the total number of people diagnosed with gonorrhea during the 2018-2019 period, men reported a higher percentage. Compared to 49% in 2015, male diagnoses increased to 53%.
There are three stages of syphilis, primary, secondary, and early non-primary/non-secondary. In North Carolina, the number of early-stage syphilis cases in 2019 was 2,115, which is approximately 20 cases per 100,000 people. The rate of syphilis transmission has slightly increased in North Carolina, compared to the year 2017-18 statistics. In 2017 a total of 1,911 cases were diagnosed, and in 2018 around 1,910 cases were reported, with 18.6 and 18.4 people diagnosed per 100,000 population. Moreover, in 2019, 27 infants were born with congenital syphilis, a startling increment compared to the 19 probable cases of infant congenital syphilis in 2018.
The Guttmacher Institute reported that in the U.S., on average, young people, which includes those in their early teens, become sexually active at about age 17, and they generally get married in their 20s. The timeline is crucial as they may be exposed to STDs and young females are at a higher risk of unintended pregnancy.
In North Carolina, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV cases have been continually increased since 2015, and the syphilis rate has been relatively the same. In 2016, the state reported 16 infants born with congenital syphilis and two stillbirths due to syphilis. The North Carolina health department reported that STD infection rates were higher among particular racial/ethnic groups. This could result from wealth distribution gaps and poverty that prevent people from getting screened timely and regularly.
Those who cannot meet their basic survival needs will certainly find it difficult to access quality sexual health services. This demographic group has trouble accessing testing facilities.
Comparing the trend of people getting diagnosed with an STD in 2018 in the state, the department identified that most of them belonged to the group living below the poverty line in the state's census tract or coming from a poor neighborhood. Those living in localities with a higher rate of people living below the poverty line were at a higher risk of getting infected and diagnosed with an STD.
The highest number of chlamydia incidence rates was reported in African-Americans in North Carolina compared to other races, including Whites. On the other hand, people aged between 20 and 24 reported the highest rate of chlamydia diagnoses, followed by people between ages 15 and 19 and ages 25 and 29. Around two-thirds of the chlamydia, diagnoses were reported among females.
The government and the North Carolina Health Department have been striving hard to address the inclining rates of STD infections. Public health workers constantly target young men who have sex with men (MSM) and men of color to get them screened. The state's high-risk counties, including Orange, Guilford, Mecklenburg, Wake, Durham, and Forsyth, are the main focus of these efforts. The state runs a peer-to-peer program designated for people at risk of contracting an STD or HIV. for this program. Facilitators are hired from within the community to spread awareness about the dangers of not getting screened for the infection.
The state has also designed a comprehensive sexual education curriculum, including information on STDs and syphilis prevention. Disease Investigation Specialists (DIS's) also outreach those individuals diagnosed with HIV or syphilis. They test partners in the field and diagnose syphilis cases.
However, in North Carolina, there's a dire need to address prejudicial and inequity-based health care systems to prevent the incline in the rates of STD transmissions. In this regard, the state's health department runs a cultural competency training program with health care providers to offer care to people facing discrimination.
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.