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Public health officials concerned about low STD testing rates

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Over the last year or so, health officials have released reports that STD testing rates are significantly dropping. Due to the recent pandemic that had clouded the entire world, the priorities began to change. The healthcare system’s focal point had changed since many lives were lost because of the coronavirus. With these factors, people began to neglect their sexual health, where the screening for STDs saw a massive dip.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highly recommends every legal individual get screened for STDs at least once a year. Clinical tests are quite essential if one wants to have an understanding of their physical and sexual health. If a citizen in an area is coexisting with other people with STDs, the chances of their condition getting worse is higher if they’re not tested. STDs affect many people in the United States and the healthcare system. It affects the financial situation and economy in the parts where the diseases are prevalent.

Common STDs like chlamydia and herpes were bound to reach record highs in positive cases. However, the numbers began to take a downfall as more people started staying inside their homes. Since STD testing clinics and centers were significantly understaffed over the recent months, the testing rates saw record lows. All these circumstances had a hand in low STD screening rates being reported all over the country.

Why low STD testing rates is a major concern

The collection of data and information plays a huge role in fighting against sexually transmitted diseases. Public health officials have recently raised issues and concerns about STD screening rates seeing a major dip. With no data, the healthcare system will be handicapped since they cannot know how and where the infections are coming from. Knowing the demographics and statistics of a particular area for major STDs is an essential part of trying to keep the numbers low.

Many people also tend to overlook the fact that STDs can cause serious health issues in the long run. Plus, the easiest way to infect people with STDs is not knowing that they are also infected. So, being unaware of your sexual health is one of the riskiest things, especially if the subject has signs or symptoms. During the last two years, only a small percentage of people infected with common STDs were informed that they had the disease, creating a loophole in general healthcare. Mandatory screenings were deemed as necessary by the CDC to help reduce the death rates of sexually transmitted infections. In the United States, there’s an estimate that STDs infect one person in every group of five adults. These numbers play a major role in the increase of mortality percentages and the decline of health in general.

How testing rates have been affected

Due to the pandemic, around 80% of STD testing clinics were said to have been non-functional. However, most of these clinics are up and running again. With more people staying inside their homes than ever before, they tend to ignore the wellbeing of their sexual health. Plus, a majority of the population has become more accustomed to living and working from their homes. With the focus shifted more towards the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a slow decline in general awareness for all types of STDs. This results in more people engaging in sexual activities without proper knowledge or protection. STDs can even go undetected for months or years. That’s why testing and screenings are an essential part of maintaining one’s personal and sexual health.

People who might have symptoms of STDs have also avoided STD screening clinics due to their fear of getting infected with the coronavirus. Supplies have also been known to run short during the recent months, which could’ve affected the efficiency of testing procedures. Testing for STDs was severely reduced, with lots of people suffering from these diseases. With low access to diagnostic centers and treatment, more patients were left to seek treatment locally.

According to doctors, nothing is more effective than early diagnosis and treatment. So, people should be more aware of the urgency of this issue. With more people avoiding screening for STDs, the chances of infecting other people are much higher. Testing rates have also been affected because most of the STDs are asymptomatic, with a large number of symptoms showing only after the first few years. With limited awareness of this issue, the citizens could’ve overlooked the concerning factors of one’s sexual health.

Costs and funding related to STDs

STDs are common worldwide, which becomes a problem in both the health and financial sectors. Due to low STD testing rates, the government is spending more on healthcare facilities and awareness. It’s being estimated that at least one person in a group of five has an STD. So it has cost the country at least $16.5 billion in medical fees and costs over the last two years. STI prevalence in the country has always been a problem every year. More people tend to suffer more when they are not tested, which directly affects their overall health. The problems caused by STDs can be cured and given proper treatment if the subject is screened early.

The national healthcare system has reported that they’ve spent around $755 million just for herpes. STIs like gonorrhea, syphilis, and hepatitis have also cost over $1.2 billion just on medical costs. However, these are just estimates where the actual budget spent on medical costs and fees could be way higher. People aged between 15-25 years are the most vulnerable since the chances of them contracting STDs are higher. The main cause of the prevalence of STDs in the young adult age groups is that they tend to be more sexually active than the older generations. Around 48% of STD cases occur in this age group. So this group in particular directly plays a part in the high cost estimates for the country—nevertheless, people of all age groups, whether young or old, should be screened for STDs.

Story by Ryan Jones

augusta free press
augusta free press