STD outbreak in Utah: Rise in STD’s alarms health officials

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Recently, the Deseret News published an article reflecting on an increase of gonorrhea cases in Utah, particularly through groups that have usually been considered low-risk when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases. Cases have quadrupled in the last five years, going from 310 cases in 2010 to 1,564 in 2015.

Why does this matter to you?

With new dating and social media apps like Tinder, Snapchat, Periscope or, dating is transitioning into the whole “Netflix and Chill” vibe where people’s attitudes towards sex is changing and it’s easier to resort to casual hook-ups. In fact, it’s much more socially acceptable now to have casual sex, as well as multiple sex partners, rather than have a committed monogamous relationship. Technology is becoming a lesser evil as it makes relationships and meeting people easier, but often results in dating scares, catfishing and commitment phobias. As the random hook-ups increase, unfortunately so does the potential for STD’s.

The real problem at hand…

According to the Utah Department of Health, the majority of the gonorrhea cases are coming from white adults in their mid 20’s to 30’s. However, adolescents between the ages 15-24 (which make up 16 percent of the state’s population) account for 63 percent of the reported chlamydia cases and 38 percent of the gonorrhea cases. While adolescents are dealing with chlamydia, the midlife adults account for many of the gonorrhea cases. This leads to a simple explanation: a lack of education and understanding of sex, contraceptives and the taboo we face in this state.

What can be done?

Barbara Kuehl, the director of academic services at the Salt Lake City School District acknowledged that educators are extremely limited when it comes to what they’re allowed to teach students in sex education classes. According to Utah law, teachers are allowed to discuss contraception, but they cannot tell students where to get it or how to use it. The overall emphasis is solely on abstinence. We simply tell the students in the Utah school systems that sex is not to happen, and that you’ll be in trouble, frowned upon, judged, or punished if you do. Realistically, that’s not going to stop everyone, it’s going to make those who are active not talk about it, or seek education and help when they need it.

My Opinion…

As this is an ongoing issue, and drastically increasing, something needs to be changed. The way we breeze over contraception makes it seem unimportant. If it is not important enough for them to teach to me, then it is not important enough for me to use it. Suppose I was curious however, I wouldn’t even know where to begin on where to look for contraception, or how to properly use it. So I’d go forth and let my sexual activity and promiscuous lifestyle begin, hoping that I can somehow avoid an STD or knocking someone up. Please share your opinions @thereal_jsanch or a letter to the editor.