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Michigan residents may need better access to STD testing

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Some people may think that if they need to tested for sexually transmitted diseases, they have to go to the doctor, but they may be wrong. In reality, STD testing services can be acquired in a number of different, confidential ways, without having to make a doctor's visit. Recently, MLive published an article explaining that there is insufficient access to and use of STD testing in many counties across Michigan, suggesting that residents in the state may be unaware of their screening options.

The news source reported on data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which ranked counties across the U.S. on a number of health measures, such as smoking and alcohol use as well as access to healthcare professionals. According to MLive, the disparities in STD rates across counties were shocking.

Major differences
According to the news source, in Wayne County, the rate of chlamydia was 1,162 per 100,000 residents, which is the highest rate in the state. Following Wayne County were Saginaw, Ingham, Muskegon and Kalamazoo counties. However, more rural areas seemed to have dramatically lower STD rates. For example, the chlamydia rate for Luce County in the Upper Peninsula was 15 per 100,000 residents, which was 77 times lower than Wayne County.

While some people may take this to mean that residents of rural areas are healthier than others, that may not necessarily be the case. The news source explained that many of these counties had very high rates of smoking, alcohol abuse and premature death.

Furthermore, the news source spoke to Marianne Udow-Phillips, director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation at the University of Michigan, who added that higher STD rates in urban Michigan may simply indicate that more people in these areas are using STD testing services and reporting their rates.

Bigger problems
Chlamydia is not the only STD that people in Michigan have to worry about. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2008, the state ranked 15th highest among the 50 states in cumulative reported AIDS cases since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Over the years, there have been more than 16,800 reported cases of the virus reported in Michigan. This is another reason why residents need to be aware of all of their STD testing options, so that they can catch HIV in its early stages, when it is easiest to treat.

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