The recent outbreak of STD infections in Alaska secured them a second spot in the national rankings bulletin put out by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Read on for more.
Alaska State Leads in STD Rates
In the last 18 years, the State of Alaska has been struggling with the outbreak of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and the lack of awareness among the citizens.
Around 85% of residents are not aware of all the possible consequences these diseases may have, especially since most of them don’t show signs or symptoms. These diseases are treatable; however, if there is no awareness about them and the way they spread, the treatment may not go as smoothly.
Susan Jones, HIV/STD Program Manager, stated that the situation used to be worse. Around two decades ago, Alaska ranked first for the highest rate of gonorrhea, infectious syphilis, and chlamydia.
In 2019, there was significant progress in the suppression of the outbreak of these diseases. However, it is not nearly good enough since the State of Alaska used to have around 20 reported cases of infectious syphilis per year, and right now, these numbers are going up to 100, which is really worrying.
Jones added that the number of chlamydia cases is growing nationwide for the fourth year in a row. When it comes to this disease, its main issue is that it is entirely A-symptomatic in over 85% of cases, so many patients are not aware of the infection until they face the consequences. It is essential to point out that chlamydia is the number one cause of infertility in both men and women. Additionally, women who suffer from repeated infections tend to develop a complicated pelvic uterus infection, which is usually what leads to this.
She went on to explain why it was vital to raise awareness among both sexes since usually, people don’t have valid information about the way these diseases function. Jones said that during her work for the organization, there were many misguided beliefs about STD infections.
For instance, she stated that people tend to confuse a viral infection with chlamydia. When you are infected with chlamydia for the first time, your immune system weakens. Every other time you have it, the system weakens even more. But with viral infections, the situation is a bit different. Once infected with it, the system becomes immune to it, and you have the opportunity to fortify your immune system and beat it. People need to be aware that the more times you are infected with chlamydia, the more likely you are to have it again and to face further complications related to your reproductive system.
According to the reports, out of 85% reported cases of chlamydia infection, the highest rate was between the ages of 20–24, but the results were also high in the groups of 15- to 19-year-olds. The lower rates were reported in the group of 30- to 35-year-olds.
Susan Jones analyzed the results and concluded that they were the only proof that younger adults tend to have riskier sexual activities. It is a well-known fact that you might catch chlamydia if you have sex. In order to fight against it, you should use appropriate protection and follow safe sex practices.
She added that this didn’t mean that we should preach strictly monogamous relationships among the younger adults, but that we should encourage them along with insisting on safe sex practices and use of protection. These diseases affect both men and women, but there is more information about the female population since women have regular annual check-ups. On the other side, men don’t visit the doctor as often, so they might not be aware that they have contracted the infection.
Lastly, she added that another important way to decrease the infection rates in Alaska was to raise awareness of the public. People need to know more about the diseases, how they spread, and what the consequences could be if they are not treated.
She is currently working on a campaign which should raise awareness about these diseases and what kind of threat they pose. Jones insists on showing the numbers, as she thinks this could help people realize that the situation is alarming and that something needs to be done.
In this campaign, she plans on including the younger adults and their parents to encourage them to talk more freely about it to their children. The younger adults need to know more about it to protect their partners and themselves.
The numbers based on National Statistics state that at the moment, there are over 27,814 reported cases of syphilis, over 468,514 cases of gonorrhea, and around 1,598,354 cases of chlamydia. The total number of Alaskan residents that have contracted one of the Sexual Transmitted Disease is over 2,094,682, which proves that the situation is more than alarming.
The authorities made a formal announcement in which they suggested talking to your local health provider. Also, they advised everyone to test themselves as soon as possible.