Do you know what STDs are? These are basically germs that can quickly spread from person to person via sexual or skin-to-skin contact. Viruses can cause these infections, for instance, HIV, or bacteria, e.g., chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Or else, STDs could be caused by parasites, e.g., trichomoniasis. No matter what kind of STD or infection you have contracted, it will make you vulnerable to a host of other life-threatening ailments and can impact your fertility.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that around 20 million new STDs infections are reported annually. A majority of these cases are identified among people aged 15 to 24. That's not a healthy trend because it can have long-lasting, adverse health consequences for the individual.
In America, two of the most commonly reported infectious diseases are chlamydia and gonorrhea. Both pose a considerable risk to male/female reproductive health and cause infertility/impotence if left untreated. So, testing is the only way to detect and treat STIs (sexually transmitted infections) before these turn into diseases and lead to other more chronic infections.
STDs are treatable infections, but the problem is that most of them are asymptomatic, which means the infected individual doesn't get any symptoms until the disease has done considerable damage. You can consider them the silent killers. That's why the CDC recommends that every sexually active individual should undergo STDs screening regularly to remain aware of their sexual health status. They should also encourage their partners to get tested to enjoy a healthy and happy life.
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The Vermont Health Department continuously monitors reportable bacterial infections, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. The department is responsible for providing support services to Vermonters, mainly assisting newly diagnosed individuals to understand their condition and treatment demands better. Moreover, the department notifies sex partners of those diagnosed with an STD on a free and voluntary basis. Furthermore, the Vermont Health Department links the patients' partners to STD testing and treatment.
Vermont's HIV/STD/Hepatitis Program funds and supports different programs designed to help people at risk for STDs. Through this initiative, the state intends to spread awareness among people regarding how to protect themselves against STDs and prevent their spread.
In addition to this, the program ensures at-risk communities can access STD testing and helps infected individuals adhere to treatment options that reduce infection symptoms and the risk of transmission and improve their overall health. The team achieves these tasks by collaborating with medical services providers across the state to ensure they offer appropriate STDs testing facilities and deliver the best possible treatment to patients diagnosed with STDs.
Another important initiative is started by the CDC. The organization offers funding to the Vermont State Health Department to implement initiatives geared towards reducing STDs prevalence in the state via advanced control measures. CDC's focus is on encouraging scalable, high-impact, sustainable, and cost-effective STDs prevention solutions.
Reportedly, Vermont has the second-to-lowest or lowest most rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and primary/secondary syphilis in the country as per the 2019 statistics. However, Vermont has been observing a surprising spike in the rates of infectious diseases, particularly the three common STDs, according to the Vermont Department of Health.
In 2008, the state recorded 34 gonorrhea cases, and in 2018 the number increased to 274. A similar trend was noticed in chlamydial infections as from 954 cases in 2006, the state's infection rate crossed 2,000 by 2018.
In fact, the state's number of chlamydia cases jumped from 1,690 cases in 2016 to over 1,850 cases in 2017. What's most concerning is that these numbers only indicate confirmed cases, which means an individual went to get screened and received a positive result. These numbers do not include people unaware of their sexual health status and haven't gotten tested for STDs yet.
According to the state's health department, the overall national rates of STDs also do not provide a clear picture as these are only one-fifth of the total cases out there. So, while Vermont's number has remained steady at 2,000 infections, the situation could be much worse, and the actual number of cases may exceed 10,000.
In 2018, the state's population-adjusted chlamydia infection rate was 297.5, which was indeed low enough for the state to appear at number 49 among the 50 U.S. states. It was -43% lower than the overall U.S. rate.
Still, Vermont's chlamydia rates are higher than West Virginia, the state that came at number 50. Over the past six years, Vermont's chlamydia rate has been increasing. Today, it is 8% higher than the rate reported in 2012 but way lower than the number of cases in 2014 and 2015 when the state reported 357 and 303 chlamydia cases, respectively.
Concerning gonorrhea prevalence, the state boasts the single lowest rate in the 50 U.S. states with just 32.5 cases/100,000 population. This is -81% lower than the overall national gonorrhea rates and -90% lower than the topmost affected state Mississippi.
But, the fact cannot be ignored that rates of gonorrhea infection have been rising since 2015 and doubled between 2012 and 2017. In 2012 and 2013, the state reported over 15 cases/100,000 people, and in 2014, there were over 13 cases/100,000 people. The state witnessed a sharp rise in 2015, with 24.8 gonorrheal infections reported per 100,000 people, followed by 20.1 cases in 2016 and 32.5 cases in 2017.
In Vermont, the number of primary/secondary syphilis cases has remained relatively low, with 2.1 cases reported per 100,000 people. That's the 2nd lowest rate in the USA and well below the national rate (-78%). It is around -90% lower than Nevada's syphilis infection rate. It is important to note that Nevada is the national leader in syphilis infection.
However, in the past few years, syphilis rates have increased in Vermont. The state has recorded a whopping 110% increase between 2012 and 2018. Where Vermont reported just one primary/secondary syphilis case per 100,000 people in 2012, by 2017, this increased to 2.1 cases/100,000 people.
In Vermont, there has been an unprecedented increase in STI diagnoses among people between 60 and 70s. This means people falling under this age group have responded to the statewide campaigns for people to get tested for STDs, whether they have symptoms or not.
It is worth noting that the overall STDs incidence is relatively low in Vermont, and the data regarding ethnic disparities in STDs is scarce. But, as per the CDC, the state has seen improvement in cases of congenital syphilis over the years as there were no reported cases between 2011 and 2015. This indicates more pregnant females are getting tested for syphilis and getting appropriate treatment before giving birth.
Burlington metro area is the worst affected region in Vermont as far as chlamydia infection rates are concerned since 2 in 5 cases were reported here between 2017-2018. On the other hand, the Claremont-Lebanon area, which includes New Hampshire counties, accounted for 13% of all chlamydia cases reported in Vermont. Washington country reported 365 cases, Chittenden country reported 359 cases, and Orange country reported 325 cases per 100,000 people in 2017-2018.
In Vermont, Burlington accounted for over half of all gonorrhea cases in 2017. Chittenden reported the most cases (34), followed by Grand Isle with 29 cases, and Franklin county reported over 26 cases in 2017.
Regarding primary and secondary syphilis, one out of three cases were diagnosed in the Burlington area, whereas Claremont-Lebanon has 22% of all cases.
The disparities in the state's chlamydia rates between white women and women of color are significant since, in 2017, the rate of STD infection among black women was at least five times higher than that of white women. The highest rates of chlamydia were reported among people aged 20-24, and young females within this age group make up around half of all reported cases in Vermont.
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.