A report by the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) suggests that the number of sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the United States is once again increasing despite efforts on educating the public on the risks of syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV and unsafe sex.
According to the report, between the years 2013 and 2014, sexually transmitted diseases among Rhode Islanders have dramatically increased, with gonorrhea cases going up by 30 percent and infectious syphilis cases by 79 percent. People diagnosed with HIV also rose by 33 percent.
The HEALTH report also underscored the continued increase of infectious syphilis and HIV/AIDS cases among members of the gay and bi-sexual community.
Nicole Alexander-Scott, the Director Designee at HEALTH, stated that while there has been considerable progress in promoting awareness of the disease over the past few years, the data provided in the report shows that there are still more things to be done.
Alexander-Scott pointed out how people in Rhode Island have created an effective cooperation between state agencies, healthcare providers and local community groups in spreading information about sexually transmitted disease and convincing citizens to undergo tests and treatment for such illnesses.
Major health programs initiated during the 1980s and 1990s have helped decrease the rates of HIV and STD transmission. The testing of pregnant women has also noticeably reduced the incidents of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The spread of the disease among drug users has dropped through needle exchange programs.
The increase in early diagnosis is believed to be caused by people becoming more well-informed on the dangers of STDs. They are also shown to be more proactive in participating in screening programs, which many consider a significant progress.
Some people, however, argue that the promiscuous behavior often seen in young people only serves to encourage the spread of sexually transmitted illnesses. The problem is also compounded by the use of social media as avenues to meet strangers and engage in unprotected sex.
The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) has reiterated its goal of promoting proactive and accessible sex and STD education in high schools in order to help the increase in STD cases under control.
"These new data underscore the importance of encouraging young people to begin talking to a doctor, nurse, or health educator about sexual health before becoming sexually active and especially after becoming sexually active," Rosemary Reilly-Chammat, HIV/AIDS Sexuality Specialist from the Rhode Island Department of Education, said.
Reilly-Chammat added that it is never too early to understand the importance of STD and HIV testing in personal healthcare.
She said that medical professionals, such as doctors and nurses, are well trained to discuss sensitive topics like sex with high school students. All conversations will be kept confidential to protect the privacy of the participants.
Reilly-Chammat also said health educators at schools or community health centers can also help in spreading information on sexually transmitted diseases.
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