Virginia: the capital of STDs

Number of VA residents contracting STDs is ranked among the highest in the U.S.

Casey Nguyen, Managing Editor

Imagine you are having one of those romantic nights with your significant other, or even just a one night stand. The mood is set and you are ready to swing into action. But then something comes up. You forgot the condom! You either have to make a quick run to the store or just not use a condom this one time.You’re in the moment, this one time may seem harmless. However, you should take a second to rethink it.

Here is a scary and eye-opening fact that will make you think twice before having unprotected sex: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than two million chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis cases reported across the nation just this year.

So what is the trick to not contract one of these three sexually transmitted infections, or STIs? The answer is simple. It comes precisely from what you learned in your sixth grade F.L.E. class: practice safe sex and stay up to date on tests.

The CDC released a report in April, and it is anything but pretty. The report states that the number of Americans contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is about to reach epidemic levels this year alone. And what state is the forefront of the problem? Virginia.

Cases of the three STDs have increased since 2006, according to the data released by the CDC. Washington D.C., specifically, has the highest rate of syphilis in the United States with 84.5 cases per 100,000 people. Virginia, on the other hand, has 15.5 cases per 100,000 people.

Syphilis itself starts as a painless sore. However, when left untreated, it will cause rashes, swollen lymph nodes and fevers within six weeks. Among severe cases, syphilis may cause damages to the heart, brain, nerves, eyes, joints, bones, liver and blood vessels.

In regards to chlamydia, Virginia was ranked No. 24 with a rate of 473.2 cases per 100,000. Sadly, Washington D.C. has reported with the highest percentage once again. Of the total 1,008,403 reported cases among the entirety of the nation, 63.1% of the cases were persons ages 15-24 years.

“The state should consider raising even more awareness on this topic to reduce the severe statistics,” junior Maria Cisneros said.

Richmond, Virginia, has been in the top 20 cities in the nation for STDs/STIs for years now.
However, the Norfolk area, including Virginia Beach, has broken through to the top 10 STD-infested cities in the country. This is not exactly something you expect to read about happening in your home state.

Like many students, junior Abbey Yared is filled with astonishment when reading the report. He questions why the state has allowed for such catastrophic STD rates to remain and wonders what the state will be doing in the future to bring these levels down.

“Students should consider sharing their experience, if they are comfortable, in order to help their classmates understand that STDs are a common reality that they can encounter if they are not careful,” Cisneros said.

Contracting STDs can be extremely damaging to your life. While some of these diseases can be cured, many last an entire lifetime. Once contracted, there is no undo button.

All three of these diseases can be cured with antibiotics, but if left untreated, there can be serious health consequences: infertility, pelvic damage, and organ damage. However, it is entirely preventable.

“Parents need to educate their kids about sex, especially safe sex,” junior Kassie Peralta said.
With these recent findings in mind, it is safe to say that protected sex is the best type of sex. So before diving right in, think about the consequences.