The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed in its recent report that in 2018, there were around 2.5 million cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) reported in the United States. Texas is one of the topmost affected states in this regard, as the rate of STD cases has seen a sharp rise within the last decade.
According to the CDC, thousands of people are unaware of the fact that they have an STD. Therefore, the actual number of people affected by STDs in the U.S., particularly Texas remains unreported. It happens because most STDs, such as Syphilis, Gonorrhea, and Chlamydia, don't display any noticeable symptoms.
STDs remain a significant and concerning health issue, primarily among teens, pregnant females, and men who have sex with men. Untreated STDs cause long-term health issues for the infected individual and jeopardize others' safety, especially their partner/spouse. Not just that, the prevalence of an STD is quickly becoming the leading cause behind a majority of congenital disabilities among infants. It also leads to infertility, premature births, and infant deaths right after birth.
Moreover, if screening isn't conducted at the right time, STDs can cause various chronic health conditions and aggravate other underlying health issues. For instance, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, HIV, cervical cancer, and infertility. That's why it is essential for every sexually active person, regardless of age or gender, must undergo STD testing.
If diagnosed at the right time, sexually transmitted diseases are curable with medications. Pregnant women, people living with HIV, men who have sex with men, and individuals having intimate relations with multiple partners should compulsorily get tested. In fact, as per the Texas Health and Safety Code §81.090, health care providers are required to test pregnant females at varying stages during gestation and before delivery.
CDC reports that the state ranks 23 on the list of U.S. states having the highest number of STD cases. Texas state's number of uninsured people is the highest in the country. As per the Kinder Houston Survey 2020, around one-quarter of Harris County families are uninsured. Many of the Texas cities are included in the national list of cities reporting the highest number of STD cases in recent years.
Austin ranks at number 56 with over 1000 cases, Killeen ranks number 8 with 1600 cases per 100,000 people. Waco was ranked 33rd, Lubbock 38th, San Antonio 74th, and Dallas was featured on number 60. The highest number of STD diagnoses were made in Harris County and Dallas Country, stated the Texas Department of State Health Services.
As per the CDC, the state reported the highest number of Chlamydia cases. The number of cases was higher among women with 752 cases per 100/000 people, which is 2.6 times higher than men (288 cases). The Texas STD Surveillance Report 2018 reveals that around half of the top 25 U.S. cities having the highest STD rates were reported in Southern Texas.
In 2018, the state registered 12,900 new cases of Syphilis, which was 10.6% higher than in 2017. The number of primary/secondary Syphilis cases was 2,528 per 100,000 population, 15% higher than in 2017. The number of overall Chlamydia cases in Texas during 2018 was 145,874, and around 46,958 cases of Gonorrhea were recorded.
In many Texas counties, the number of STD cases is on the rise and reveals the year 2016 study from the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute. The study utilized data from 2013 and concluded that Dallas, Bexar, El Paso, Travis, and Midland counties were getting worse in Chlamydia cases. In 2013, Bexar Country had around 11,826 new cases, which was the highest in Texas that year, and almost all major counties reported around 600 cases per 100,000 residents. Some even reported over 1000 cases per 100,000 persons.
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|Balch Springs||Bandera||Bastrop||Bay City|
|Carrizo Springs||Carrollton||Castle Hills||Cedar Hill|
|Cedar Park||Cleburne||Cleveland||College Station|
|Copperas Cove||Corpus Christi||Corsicana||Cotulla|
|Cross Roads||Crowley||Crystal City||Cuero|
|Cypress||Dallas||Deer Park||Del Rio|
|Eagle Pass||Edcouch||Edinburg||El Paso|
|Floresville||Flower Mound||Forney||Fort Worth|
|Lake Jackson||Lake Worth||Lakeway||Lampasas|
|Liberty||Little Elm||Live Oak||Livingston|
|Midland||Mineral Wells||Mission||Missouri City|
|Nederland||New Braunfels||New Caney||North Richland Hills|
|Pleasanton||Port Arthur||Port Isabel||Porter|
|Rio Grande City||Roanoke||Robstown||Rockdale|
|Round Rock||Rowlett||Saginaw||San Angelo|
|San Antonio||San Benito||San Juan||San Marcos|
|Spring||Spring Branch||Stafford||Sugar Land|
|Texarkana||Texas City||The Woodlands||Three Rivers|
|West Lake Hills||Wharton||Wichita Falls||Willis|
In not just Texas but overall in the U.S., claims CDC, sexually transmitted diseases disproportionately impact ethnic and racial minorities. The rate of STD cases is significantly high among the Black community than Whites.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, around 36.7% of all primary and secondary Syphilis cases reported in 2014 were diagnosed among the African-American populace. African-American females had the highest number of Chlamydia cases with 1,250 per 100,000 people, almost double the number for Hispanic females and around three and a half times more than the number of cases reported in White women.
The rate of Gonorrhea cases was also higher in the Black community, with 411 cases per 100,000 people, which is around five times higher than the number of cases in Hispanics (85). It was almost seven times higher than for whites, which was 61 cases per 100,000 people.
Between 2006 and 2010, the average annual incidence of all stages of Syphilis in Texas was comparatively lower in South than the rest of the state with 19.8 and 25.9 per 100,000 persons respectively.
However, Hispanics in this part of the state reported a higher incidence of Syphilis (21.9), while in the rest of the state this number was comparatively less (18.7). In South Texas, the average annual incidence of Chlamydia was also higher than the rest of Texas, with 429 cases per 100,000 people between 2006 and 2010.
In this context, Hispanics reported a higher rate of incidence than non-Hispanic whites and African-Americans. On the other hand, the incidence of Gonorrhea during the same period was the highest in Southern Texas with 90.3/100,000 people, which is nearly 2.4 times higher than non-Hispanic whites (37).
Every year, around 35,000 teenagers and young females get pregnant before turning 20 in Texas. In the rest of the U.S., the rates of teen pregnancies are declining with every passing year. However, as per a study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology journal, the rate of decline is considerably slower in Texas state.
Dallas and San Antonio had 50 and 40 percent higher teen pregnancy rates than the national average. As per the Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy's CEO, Gwen Daverth, teens in the state start indulging in sexual activity early. Research suggests that over half of high school students have had sexual intercourse. This reveals Texas is in dire need of revising its sex education policy.
In Texas, it is hard for teens to access reproductive health care. In the state, if a 16 or 17-years-old mom wants a birth control prescription, she will require her parents' permission. This law is prevalent only in Texas and Utah. Those who are already a parent will be the legal medical guardian of their baby but cannot make their own medical decisions without grandparents' permission. Perhaps, this is the reason Texas is reporting the highest number of repeat teen pregnancies in the U.S.
However, several studies have concluded that contraception is fundamental to reduce the rate of teen pregnancies. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy revealed that teen pregnancies cost Texas over $1 billion every year. These costs are incurred due to lost wages and excessive reliance on social services by this age group.
To offer treatment, care, and prevention services, Texas has implemented several key measures. The Department of State Health Services HIV/STD program is initiated under national guidelines related to the care and treatment of STD. These guidelines are developed by nationally recognized groups, including CDC, Office of AIDS Research Council, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, AIDS Education and Training Center, and National Institute of Health.
STI Care Options During COVID-19 is another significant step towards addressing the issue. It is developed by the Denver Prevention Training Center to deliver STI (sexually transmitted infection) services while people are staying at home or in shelters due to the pandemic. It is launched specifically to help people access to care as social distancing and lockdown have made it challenging for them to seek care and treatment.
Moreover, the government is responsible for distributing informative materials produced annually by collaborating representatives of the federal government, local communities, states, community-based organizations, hospitals, service organizations, and schools. The Program Materials Review Panel (PMRP) of the DSHS reviews all the new publications, educational materials, and videos that will be used in its HIV/STD prevention activities.
The CDC is funding the National Infertility Prevention Project. It is a multi-state project that was launched around 20 years back and is still active in Texas. Through this program, the government aims to implement effective STD prevention strategies, with a special focus on reducing Chlamydia prevalence and Chlamydia-related health complications among females. Through this project, screening for Gonorrhea was made essential for sexually active people, including male partners.
The Texas Infertility Prevention Project (TIPP) is initiated in partnership with DSHS. It focuses on identifying, screening, and treating men and women who are at the highest risk of getting infected with Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. Under this program, infected or at-risk people are offered counseling regarding treatment options and safe sex practices. STD clinics, family planning centers, correctional facilities, maternity clinics, etc., are some of TIPP screening sites spread across the state.
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.