Floyd STD rate on the rise
Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in Floyd County, according to the County Health Rankings report released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation last week.
The STD rate contributed to the county’s listing at No. 40 out of Georgia’s 159 counties for overall health factors, despite having a doctor-patient ratio that rivals the top-performing areas in the nation.
“Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the two most common STDs we see with Floyd County teens,” said Floyd County Health Department Nurse Manager Alison Watson. “We see other STDs ... but these two are our biggest concerns.”
The most recent data available show that in 2015 there were 113 chlamydia cases and 12 gonorrhea cases among teens aged 15 to 19.
The County Health Rankings, which compares ratios, puts Floyd at a total STD rate equal to 472 cases per 100,000 people in 2014. That’s up from 362 per 100,000 the year before and 301 per 100,000 in 2008.
Georgia averaged nearly 520 cases per 100,000 people statewide in 2014, while the top-performing areas in the country averaged 145.5 cases per 100,000.
“It’s crucial to educate our teens about how STDs are transmitted, how to protect themselves and how to seek medical treatment when needed,” said Watson. “Teens shouldn’t just hope an STD will go away. It won’t.”
Watson said about 40 percent of teens nationally are sexually active by the age of 19. Of those, one in four has at least one STD.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea sometimes have no symptoms, or people may overlook them, so many infections go undiagnosed.
“This can cause serious health complications for men and have lifelong repercussions for a woman’s reproductive health, including infertility,” Watson said.
The Floyd County Health Department offers confidential STD testing and treatment for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, herpes and genital warts. The tests are teen-friendly, said Watson, who noted that young people are at greater risk.
“Young women’s bodies are biologically more susceptible to STDs ... and many young people are hesitant to talk openly and honestly with a doctor or nurse about their sex lives,” she said. “Not having insurance or transportation can make it more difficult.”
Abstinence is the best protection, she said, otherwise, condoms should be used every time a couple has sex.
“It is not safe to stop using condoms unless you’ve both been tested, know your status and are in a mutually monogamous relationship,” Watson said.
For testing, treatment and more information on STD prevention, contact the health department, 16 E. 12th St., at 706-295-6123, or online at nwgapublichealth.org or Facebook.
Acceptable payment methods for STD services include cash, Medicaid, Aetna and Cigna.