JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in this country. That's according to new data just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
Laura Beauchamps, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Mississippi Medical Center said the number of chlamydia cases is alarming.
"We have right now, more than 2000 cases in July 2018 compared to July of last year," said Beauchamps. "So there is definitely a lot of work to do."
According to the CDC, the rates have gone up since 2013. There has been a 67 percent increase in gonorrhea and a 70 percent increase in secondary syphilis.
Beauchamps said prevention often comes down to just education.
"There is a lack of sexual education in very young population, also in not the very young population," she said. "The patients that are coming are 24 to 40 years old. They're just not aware of STD clinics and they're not aware of frequent STD testing."
The state of Mississippi, by law, isn't allowed to teach safe sex in schools, but according to Beauchamps, the taboo behind "the talk" shouldn't be seen as a stigma or chore by parents.
"We need a lot more safe sex education, unfortunately it's not allowed to be done in schools," she said. "Parents should take responsibility and start talking about sex at a very early age. I remember seeing at the Department of Public Health STD Clinic, very very young kids coming. I would say like younger than 15 having an STD already. And we have to do sexual education with them, and we were doing our part. But they'd go home and forget about it. So it's not being repeated from a parental point of view."
One contributing factor to the rise of STDs has been popular dating apps.
"There has been a couple of studies published on social media and STD's. There was one study that showed specific social media apps were more linked to specific STD's," said Beauchamps. "Like Tinder and Grinder were there too. A lot of times people are just in the same networks, sexual networks, and then all this sexually transmitted diseases and HIV just are hanging out and could be passed from one person to the other. Be cautious when you're doing online dating, because there's just not a lot of people that are telling the truth about there health."
There are clinics in the Jackson area that you can visit for testing and treatment. Beauchamps recommends using a condom and other forms of safe sex to prevent getting STDs. Clinics such as the Open Arms HealthCare Center is one clinic that provides great services according to Beauchamps.
According to Beauchamps, HIV is also another disease that has hit Jackson hard, but the Open Arms Health Clinic is one of those clinics that have been at the front line of HIV prevention and treatment.
"Mississippi has always ranked high in the incidents of HIV, and more like AIDS," she said. "A lot of times this is our problem in Mississippi. And from rural areas we get patients here in the hospital, is that they already have AIDS. So their immune system already so depleted that they are suffering from a very very severe disease. There's a stigma and cultural issue."
Beauchamps said "PREP", which comes in a pill form, has been one of the best tools to prevent HIV.
"We have started (providing care for) over 300 patients in the city. It's easy as taking one pill a day," she said. "It works very well if you take it everyday. It's an HIV medication that will give you a 95 percent chance of not getting HIV. It's called Truvada, and it's FDA approved. We are very excited to have this tool to provide to people that have had an STD like chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis. After treatment we can give this this extra preventative medication that works very well after just one pill a day."