In Rhode Island (RI), as per the latest data available from the state health department, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are on the rise. As per the new data, the number of cases in all three common STDs, namely chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, is currently highest compared to the last ten years. In RI, there has been a 391% increase in primary/secondary syphilis cases and a 359% rise in the number of gonorrhea cases compared to 2010.
It is imperative to be mindful of your sexual health and get yourself tested at least once a year for all common and reportable STDs/STIs (sexually transmitted infections).
Syphilis is a bacterial infection that is spread from one person to another via sexual contact. Although it is a treatable infection, the risk of re-infection is always there if your partner remains untreated. Untreated syphilis infection can cause severe, lasting health issues such as neurological and cardiac diseases.
In pregnant females, untreated syphilis is a leading cause of infant deaths and stillbirths. Or else, it can cause developmental delays and seizures among babies. If diagnosed at the right time, syphilis can be cured with antibiotics.
On the other hand, gonorrhea is also an infection caused by bacteria that spreads via sexual contact. Though it is a treatable STD, strains of gonorrhea have become resistant to standard medications. If not untreated timely, it can cause devastating reproductive health issues, particularly for females. Pregnant ladies can transmit it to their newborn babies, leading to health issues for the baby.
Chlamydia is also caused by bacteria that spread through sexual contact, and it can re-emerge even after a person gets treated if their partner isn't treated. Untreated chlamydia can cause life-threatening health outcomes like pelvic inflammatory diseases and causes male/female infertility. In females, it is one of the main risk factors behind ectopic pregnancy. While chlamydia is treatable people generally remain unaware of their condition and this causes the infection to convert into a disease. The only way you can determine your sexual health status is by testing/screening for common STDs. If diagnosed early, all STDs can be treated and their transmission can be prevented.
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The most significant initiative undertaken by the RI state government is the Sexually Transmitted Disease Program (STDP). Its mission is to control the transmission of STDs from person to person. The team behind STDP is responsible for monitoring the ongoing trends in reportable infectious diseases. This is done by identifying new diagnoses, determine the high-risk population group, and provide access to testing/screening and treatment options to the underprivileged segments of society.
It also manages cases by locating individuals exposed to STDs and referring them and their partners to screening facilities. Furthermore, STDP is responsible for controlling disease outbreaks by developing public health responses to STDs outbreaks.
In Rhode Island, syphilis and gonorrhea rates have skyrocketed over the last ten years, as per the 2018 STD Surveillance Report from the RI State Department of Health. As per the report, both diseases are up by a staggering 400% since 2009. However, the government believes that this spike could be attributed to improvement in testing services, and since the Affordable Care Act, more people have access to health care. So, the state's uninsured rate has been cut by at least one-third as from 4% it rose to 12% by 2018.
In 2018-19, the biggest rise was noted in infectious syphilis cases, with a 391% increase. In 2018 nearly 167 cases of infectious syphilis were reported statewide compared to 34 in 2009, while gonorrhea cases increased from 359 in 2009 to 1,336 in 2018, marking a 359% increase since 2010.
In RI, there were over 5,480 cases reported in 2018 compared to 3,615 in 2009, revealing a 52% increase overall in the number of cases. Moreover, the number of cases increased slightly from 2017 as over 5,280 cases were reported that year.
In 2016, around 4,936 chlamydia cases were diagnosed in RI, marking a whopping 55% increase compared to 2007 rates, while the same year gonorrhea was diagnosed in 716 individuals, which is way up from the 402 diagnoses made in 2007. In contrast, syphilis infection was detected in 153 individuals, while in 2007, only 46 cases were reported.
In 2019, RI observed a 33% increase in syphilis cases and a 23% increase in gonorrhea cases. According to the state Department of Health, this spike is caused by numerous factors such as decreased condom usage, online dating websites' popularity, risky sexual habits, etc. Reportedly, 25% of all new diagnoses were made in sexually active adolescent females.
As per the statistics in Rhode Island HIV, STDs, Viral Hepatitis, and Tuberculosis Surveillance Report 2019, there has been a dramatic 244% increase in syphilis cases since 2010. From 61 cases, it increased to 210 in 2019. Gay, bisexual, and males who have sex with males (GBMSM) are disproportionally impacted by infectious syphilis in RI, and the health disparity has increased tremendously since 2010.
In 2019, there were nearly seven times more syphilis diagnoses made in the GBMSM community than heterosexual males/females. Between 2015 and 2019, the 20-30 age group reportedly recorded the highest rate of syphilis infection in RI. But, in the past five years, there haven't been any cases of congenital syphilis at all.
Furthermore, 47% of cases were diagnosed among people aged 30-39, and 32% of all cases were reported among people aged 20-29. African-American residents were at three times more risk of contracting syphilis than whites.
In RI, gonorrhea rates have increased by 421% since 2010, which could be partially due to an increment in extragenital testing (rectum and throat testing) across the state. It is identified that gonorrhea infection rate is higher in males than in females, maybe because there is an alarming increase in infection rates in the GBMSM population and that males experience more severe and easily detectable symptoms. In contrast, most females remain unaware of their health status until tested during their prenatal visits.
Between 2010 and 2019, gonorrhea cases were consistently higher in the 20-29 age group, and the 30-39 age group was the second most impacted population segment. African-American males were seven times more likely to be diagnosed with gonorrheal infection than whites.
Similarly, between 2010 and 2019, there has been a 64% increase in chlamydia cases. Most of these cases have been diagnosed in females than males, probably due to a lack of chlamydia symptoms among males. People aged between 20 and 29 were the most at-risk population in RI, and females are twice as likely to be diagnosed than males. From 2015-2019, the greatest number of chlamydia cases were reported in 20-year-olds, followed by 19-year-olds and younger. The fourth highest group was people in their early 30s.
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.