Grab your girlfriends and get ready for an epic summer. Rapper Megan Thee Stallion has coined the phrase “Hot Girl Summer” and many ladies are taking hold and making the summer months theirs. However, keeping the body healthy and safe is one of the main factors in having a successful Hot Girl Summer. Whether single, ready to mingle, situationship, entangled or otherwise, knowing the status of your sexual health can mean the difference between fun and danger.
The Centers for Disease Control reports more than 26 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections across the country in 2018 with almost half of cases steaming from ages 15-24. Costing more than $16 billion in direct medical fees, the costs of an STI or STD can be more than just financial. Based on data from the CDC released in 2021, for the sixth consecutive year, as of 2019, cases of STDs have reached an all-time high. Yet, sexual education and prevention are not topics of discussion.
“The burden of STIs is staggering,” says Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “At a time when STIs are at an all-time high, they have fallen out of the national conversation. Yet, STIs are a preventable and treatable national health threat with substantial personal and economic impact. There is an urgent need to reverse the trend of increasing STIs, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected many STI prevention services.”
While most STIs and STDs are preventable, new positivity rates continue to climb. From 2015 to 2019, a nearly 30 percent hike in reported STDs occurred nationwide. The costs associated with sexual infections or diseases impact not only the healthcare industry, but overall quality of life. To gain a handle on increasing rates, it will take an all-hands-on-deck approach.
“Proven STI prevention – at all levels – is a cornerstone of protecting America’s health, economic security and wellness,” says Raul Romaguera, acting director for CDC’s Division of STD Prevention. “There are significant human and financial costs associated with these infections, and we know from other studies that cuts in STI prevention efforts result in higher costs down the road. Preventing STIs could save billions in medical costs, but more importantly, prevention would improve the health and lives of millions of people.”
For the City of Detroit, working to improve the STD and STI rates across the city is paramount. The Detroit Health Department provides an HIV/STD program which provides community outreach and education on help and various resources as well as referral linkages to testing and care services. Catering exclusively to Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck residents, the program also allows users to order a free 12-pack of condoms.
Each year, more than 15,000 new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis and over 200 new HIV cases are reported to the health department for Detroit alone. Though the poverty level has been on a gradual decline since 2015, with just about 30 percent of residents living below the poverty line or making less than 21,330 per year for a family of three according to the Census Bureau, sexual education is not at the forefront.
“Focusing on hard-hit populations is critical to reducing disparities,” says Jo Valentine, MSW, associate director of the Office of Health Equity in CDC’s Division of STD Prevention. “To effectively reduce these disparities, the social, cultural and economic conditions that make it more difficult for some populations to stay healthy must be addressed. These include poverty, unstable housing, drug use, lack of medical insurance or regular medical providers and high burden of STDs in some communities.”
The city offers many options for privacy and comfort while testing. To get tested or find a nearby location, call 313-577-9100. Walk-ins are accepted and no one will be turned away if they are unable to pay. Personal information and results are kept strictly confidential.