A report from the Center for Disease Control on the nation’s sexual health as of 2018 shows sexually transmitted diseases are at a peak for Greene County, the state of Missouri and the United States as a whole. The number of reported cases for each disease has been on a steady incline for the past five years, with double-digit increases between 2014 and 2018.
Released by the CDC on Oct. 8, the report contains data tracking the prevalence of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. Rates are measured in cases per 100,000 residents. The number of cases for each of these diseases is legally required to be recorded and reported by clinics and hospitals.
The report shows Greene County has a higher rate of reported cases per capita than the average for Missouri, resulting in a higher rate than the nationwide average.
Within Greene County, chlamydia, the most common of the three STDs, has seen a 49 percent increase between 2014 and 2018 and a 12 percent increase between 2017 and 2018. During the same respective time spans, gonorrhea is reported having a 137 percent increase and a 21 percent increase, while syphilis is recorded having a 262 percent increase between 2014 and 2017.
Dr. Anne Egbert, physician with Magers Family Health and Wellness Center, works directly with students who report STD symptoms and seek treatment.
“We don’t say that sex is ‘safe,’ we say you can make it ‘safer,’” Egbert said. “Condoms really help, but we also recommend annual checks for anyone under 25.”
Sexual health is further complicated because it affects men and women differently. For example, in 2017 there were 1,127,651 reports of chlamydia for females across the nation, compared to only 577,644 reported for men. This ratio is reversed for gonorrhea, which saw 232,587 cases in 2017 for women and 322,169 reported for men.
“The thing I see a lot is that women are symptomatic and guys are not,” Egbert said. “So inevitably the guy will blame her. It’s true that women often don’t have symptoms too, but it does seem that there’s a lot of blame game. And people need to not have that.”
Egbert said because of this “blame game,” the men’s numbers for diseases go up. She said early treatment is key.
“(Chlamydia) is a treatable condition that can lead to serious long-term complications, and people don’t always know when they have it,” Egbert said.
Although Magers covers basic office visits for free as part of each Missouri State student’s prepaid student health fee, STD tests are not included. Since they require samples to be processed by a lab, their rates are based on the required method, but with no markup – each test costs the student only as much as it costs the clinic itself.
With a doctor’s recommendation, Magers charges $14.17 for a joint chlamydia and gonorrhea test; $11 for a blood test to detect HIV and syphilis and $57 to test for herpes. All tests have a processing and return time between seven and 10 days.