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Cumberland County, N.C., has experienced a huge surge in many of the most common sexually transmitted diseases this year. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV and other STDs have become much more common than in the past decade, when there was a general decline. Officials blame a lack of STD testing for the spike.
Both gonorrhea and chlamydia rates were declining in the early 2000s, yet both have started to rise again. In 2011, there were 1,479 new cases of gonorrhea, making the rate for the county 463 infected per 100,000 people. The rates more than doubled between 2010 and 2011 alone. Between 2007 and 2011, there was a growth of more than 60 percent in cases of chlamydia for the county, which ranks No. 1 statewide for gonorrhea and No. 3 for chlamydia.
Rates for syphilis, gonorrhea and HIV/AIDS are higher in Cumberland County than the rest of the state. Officials cited several reasons as to why the rates are rising, one of which is that many people move in and out of the county frequently, making the cases harder to track. Youths are also more sexually active than before in the county, with chlamydia and gonorrhea occurring in youths aged 15 to 19 years old. Having STD tests is very important to curb the rates in the county as well as nationwide.
"We don't know what's going on until someone infected gets tested. They come, they go and leave town. We don't have a controlled environment," Lan Tran-Phu, Ph.D., medical director for the county's health department, told the Fay Observer.
Tran-Phu commented that many of the youths in the community may not be aware of how these diseases spread or their side effects. Chlamydia can cause infertility and miscarriages in women if left untreated, yet can be difficult to track since it sometimes shows no symptoms. It can also make it easier to contract HIV and other STDs, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Many of these common STDs can be cured with antibiotics, yet they spread easily when untreated. Anonymous STD testing can show whether or not these diseases are present, and a lab test online can provide a discreet means to finding out. Those in Cumberland County as well as across the nation should consider having STD tests if they are sexually active.
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