The numbers are in, and they're not looking good: sexually transmitted infections in Austin-Travis County are on a troublesome uptick, and local health authorities are sounding the alarm. The call to action? Widespread testing, and pronto. With STIs on the rise, individuals in the area are being urged to take advantage of free or low-cost testing to curb the spread of these infections.
Linked to a national trend, the upswing in STIs has been particularly marked in Austin-Travis County. The Texas Department of State Health Services reports a persistent prevalence of chlamydia and a 50 percent surge in gonorrhea cases from 2015 to 2020. Alarmingly, the incidence of primary and secondary syphilis jumped by 30 percent to 20.7 cases per 100,000 in the same period. Even as HIV infection rates decline, black women still face the highest rates of new diagnoses compared to other groups, according to a statement obtained by the City of Austin.
Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Public Health Authority, underscored the covert nature of these infections, noting, "Anyone can get an STI, but many don't show symptoms." Walkes talks about the necessity of testing, explaining that early detection can prevent major complications and impede further transmission of these diseases.
The upcoming 3rd Annual LGBTQIA+ Health and Resource Fair is on December 9, where attendees, following parking validated and undeterred by fees, can get themselves tested for STIs and HIV. The RBJ Sexual Health Clinic offers testing and treatments at $20 a pop, a nominal fee in the grand scheme of things when you're safeguarding your health, as reported by Austintexas.