BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - It's not easy to discuss, but the health of our community is threatened by sexually transmitted diseases.
STD rates in men, women, teenagers, and even newborns, are higher than ever. In the last few years, Kern County has seen sexually transmitted disease rates soar to unprecedented highs, putting Kern's STD rates among the highest in the state and nation. And these diseases are not picky. Among the infected are men, women,teens, and even unborn babies, which is why Kern Public Health is saying, as a community, we all should be concerned.
One new STD is reported every hour, of every day, of every week, of every year in Kern County. These staggering STD rates have been on the rise since 2011, increasing by hundreds each year.
In fact, the reported number of sexually transmitted infections in Kern County has grown so quickly and by so much that the state had to modify its graphs and charts to include higher numbers so that Kern County's rates could be seen.
Kern Public Health reports that 1 in 4 sexually active teen girls has an STD. Experts say, now more than ever, it's important for parents, educators, and peers to talk about safe sex, and the possibility of both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases because many of those infected include children as young as 10 who are carrying one or more untreated STD's from unprotected sex.
In 2015, Kern County became the second worst in the state for two of the four major sexually transmitted diseases, Chlamydia and congenital Syphilis. We are ranked 3rd worst in the state for primary and secondary Syphilis and 7th worst for the fourth major STD-Gonorrhea.
But some STDs can affect the reproductive health of both men and women among other health risks. Syphilis, for example, can cause very serious damages to major internal organs, including the brain and heart, that can never be undone, which is why experts at Kern Public Health say preventative measures like condoms are essential, and getting STD tested is of the upmost importance because no one is immune.
Ultimately, Kern Public Health and local healthcare providers say sexually active men and women have a responsibility to get tested and treated for STDs in order to stop the spread of these diseases locally.
Awareness is the first step, but taking consistent preventive measures and seeking treatment is the only way to treat this health crisis before it becomes an epidemic.
There is a clinic at Kern Public Health. STD testing and treatment can be free for those who qualify. You can call 321-3000 to make an STD screening appointment today.