AUGUSTA,Ga. (WJBF)- According to government statistics, in 2018 Augusta reported 1,675 cases of STDs per 100,000 people, making Augusta sixth in the nation for highest STD rates .
NewsChannel 6’s Ashley Flete spoke to Dr. Stephanie Baer, Infectious Disease Physician at the Medical College of Georgia and Chief of Infection Control and Epidemiology at the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Augusta.
“We see increased risk taking behavior in center population and it’s known in the veteran population. So it’s not surprising that it’s in the military population as well.”
Those risk factors she mentions include: having a high number of sexual partners, whether in a short time, or a lifetime. As well as having sexual partners of the same sex.
Do you think that’s because we have this medical district that we’re just reporting high numbers of it or are we actually seeing a lot of cases.?
“There certainly is an element of increased testing in a military or veteran population because they have better access to health care,” answers Dr. Baer.
Poverty may also be a factor in why STD rates are rising. Thanks to medical advances in treatment, many people are less scared of getting HIV. Meaning they are less likely to use condoms.
“If you check you’re more likely to find it and I think there is a lot of under testing in the general public and under utilization of health care for these problems,” says Dr.Baer.
Syphilis infection rates in dialysis patients are now exceeding the general population.
“Why is that?”
“I think it’s a combination of factors in the dialysis population, it’s very common for a patient to become confused. One of the routine test runs on a patient who’s older and becomes confused is a syphilis test because it’s the most easy reversible cause of dementia.”
Syphilis and HIV are just some of the STD’s that might not show up at first.
Dr. Baer says new testing methods have narrowed the time frame that a test can detect the disease.
Do you think that there is a possibility for them to drop from a medical stand point?
“Well in the Southeast, we have seen the rates rise every year since 2011 or even before then. They peaked and continued to rise. I don’t see anything going on that’s going to steam that tide anytime soon,” says Dr. Baer.
Dr. Baer encourages the use of protection and says if sexually active you should consider getting tested frequently as some tests may not detect the disease right away.
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