In 2019, North Dakota ranked 41st in the list of 50 US states according to the rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and ranked number 31st in 2020. That is an alarming situation because it shows a drastic increment in STD prevalence across the state. Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD in North Dakota as it affected over 466 people per 100,000 population last year. The other common STDs include gonorrhea and primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis.
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.
STDs are reportedly at an all-time high in North Dakota, as per the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) statistics. Therefore, the state health department advises people to be proactive about their sexual health and get regularly tested. That's because most STDs are asymptomatic, and this means the infected individual may not even know about the infection and keep transmitting the virus to others.
It is worth noting that in North Dakota, there has been a dramatic increase in gonorrhea cases. The largest spike was noted between 2017 and 2018. On the other hand, syphilis cases are slightly low, and it is still being diagnosed in more people every year. Syphilis is the most devastating of all reportable STDs because it can be transmitted to infants via mother, which is a condition known as congenital syphilis.
According to North Dakota state's epidemiologist and surveillance coordinator for STDs for NDDoH, Shari Renton, "Syphilis used to be pretty much non-existent, we didn't see it in North Dakota very much 'bout 20 years ago, and now it's on the rise." Moreover, Renton acknowledged that most STDs are curable, and the only way to identify the presence of an STD is through regular testing. If left untreated, STDs can have serious, even life-threatening, consequences for individuals.
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North Dakota state health officials have released startling new figures showing that while incidences of some STDs dropped in the past 2 years, various other STDs showed an unprecedented increase, particularly in 2020. One of these STDs that have suddenly started showing an inclining trend is gonorrhea, as the number of gonorrheal infections recorded a 10% increase in 2019 and again in 2020.
According to the North Dakota Department of Health's STD surveillance report 2019-2020, a total of 1,508 cases of gonorrhea were diagnosed in the state. Reportedly, injection drug use, sex with anonymous partners, and unprotected sex were the top three risk factors contributing to the spread of gonorrhea in the state. Moreover, 39 counties of North Dakota reports at least one gonorrhea case, but Sioux, Benson, and Rolette counties reported the highest numbers of gonorrhea cases.
As far as syphilis is concerned, 97 cases were reported in North Dakota in 2019, and out of these, 55 were P&S syphilis cases, whereas the remaining were later stages of the disease. Although authorities noted an 18% reduction in the rates of syphilis cases in 2019, it nonetheless remains a chronic health issue, revealed Shari Renton, as cases were reported in 16 counties of North Dakota. Between 1 to 29 cases were reported in North Dakota counties in 2019. This situation is concerning because syphilis was not even an issue of concern only a decade ago, as its cases were rarely reported in the state. Furthermore, in 2020, North Dakota reported 3 cases of congenital syphilis as well, which is the first time such cases have been reported in the past ten years.
"We are seeing syphilis more in women than ever before. Before, we'd often see it with men who have sex with men and now it's really spilled into the female population as well," Renton said.
Regarding chlamydia cases, North Dakota's Benson, Sioux, and Rolette counties reported the highest number of cases. In fact, out of 53, 51 counties reported at least one chlamydia case in 2019. It is the most common reportable disease in North Dakota, and as per 2019 STD surveillance data, the state reported 3,964 chlamydia cases at the rate of 520 cases per 100,000 people.
Out of the 3,964 cases of chlamydia reported in North Dakota in 2019, over 62% (2,489) cases were diagnosed among females, making them the most affected population in the state, revealed the annual STD surveillance report.
However, it isn't too surprising because screening rates are higher among women in North Dakota as they undergo annual gynecological and prenatal visits more frequently. Reportedly, more than 40% of chlamydia cases in the past five years were reported in adults aged 20-24, followed by teens 15-19 years old. But, on average, older females are more susceptible to contracting chlamydia.
Out of the known chlamydia cases reported in 2019, 1,950 were whites. The next most affected group was American Indian/Alaskan Natives with 701 cases, followed by African-Americans with 527 cases. But considering their smaller population size, blacks reported the highest rate of cases with 2,035 per 100,000 people.
Gonorrhea is a bit more evenly spread in North Dakota compared to chlamydia. There were 1508 cases reported in 2019, out of which 51% (762) were reported among females, and 49.5% (746) were male. Teens and young adults were disproportionally impacted by gonorrhea as nearly half (48%) of cases were diagnosed among people aged 20-29, whereas in 2018, peopled aged 30-44 were the most impacted age group. In 2018 this group reported a 66% increase in gonorrhea cases, while in 2019, the 30-44 age group reported an 18% increase. Most cases were reported in older males than older females.
As far as races and ethnicities are concerned, most reported gonorrhea cases were diagnosed in American Indians/Alaskan Natives, with 1,301 cases per 100,000 people and 525 overall cases. Conversely, 224 cases of gonorrhea were reported in Black/African Americans at a rate of 865 cases/100,000 people, while the white community reported 93 cases/100,000 people with a total of 606 cases.
Syphilis cases saw a sharp increase in North Dakotan females in 2019 as out of the 97 cases reported overall, 65% or 63 cases were diagnosed among females. Eight females were diagnosed with syphilis during pregnancy and received appropriate treatment, due to which congenital transmission could be prevented. The mean age of syphilis cases was 33. American Indian/Alaskan Natives reportedly had the highest incidence of syphilis cases with a 4.6% increase in infection rates from 2018 as this group reported 26.4% of all syphilis infections in 2018 and 21.8% in 2019. On the other hand, Black/African Americans were the second most impacted group with 57.9 infections/100,000 people.
The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Program and Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Program are two of the most significant initiatives from the state to address the growing number of STDs cases statewide. The NDDoH STD and STI programs receive funding from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The purpose behind launching these initiatives is to encourage an overall improvement in assessment efforts and countering the STD epidemic.
The programs are required to monitor the incidence and prevalence of STDs in the state, mainly for chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea. The program operators must utilize surveillance data to characterize STD risks appropriately and identify disproportionately impacted populations. Furthermore, STD infection risks are assessed to devise effective STD prevention strategies and programs, including linkage to care initiatives and partner notification.
The essential activities aim to reduce the number of cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis; improve the integration of STD services into clinical care across the health care system; increase access to STD services for those populations most at-risk; and reduce the threats of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, other emerging STDs and congenital syphilis. These activities aim to reduce the number of chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea cases, improve STD/STI diagnostic and treatment services integration into clinical care across the state's healthcare system, and promote increased access to STI/STD services for at-risk populations and reduce threats of antibiotic-resistant STDs.