Georgia is ranked among the top five states in the nation for the highest chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis rates according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2016.
The Metropolitan Savannah Area (MSA) has seen a 15 percent increase in sexually transmitted diseases (STD) rates in both Bryan and Chatham counties, and a 4.8 percent decrease in Effingham country from 2012-16 according to the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH).
With nine colleges and universities in the MSA, it would be helpful for the STD statistics of these institutions to be available to the students and the public. The information collected by the GDPH and the CDC only narrows the information down to counties, and not schools for confidentiality reasons.
“The statistics would never be narrowed down to schools for privacy reasons. Counties and zip codes is how it’s done," said Robert Thornton, GDPH manager of epidemiology.
Judy Johnson, administrative assistant at the Harris McDrew Health Center, reinforced Thornton’s stance.
“The only information is for the county, we would not keep statistics about student STD rates,” she said.
Savannah State University does not provide students with a way to see the school’s STD statistics. Something a few students are worried about.
Sophomore Anthony Watson, says he is worried about his friends’ sexual health.
“Safe sex saves lives. I’m from the number one AIDS capital, Atlanta. It sucks to see my friends burning out here," he said.
Junior Brianna Carr, says, “[I heard] Chatham county has the highest STD rates in Savannah, but I haven’t heard any information about SSU. The statistics should start being given out at the clinic, so people can know about their safety.”
Biology major Kanaysha Cobb, has been able to see the information on SSU STD rates through her biology professor.
“I recently looked up the Chatham county STD rate and it was high, but I’m from Albany so that [rate] is higher,” she said.
In 2012, the GPHD found that Bryan, Chatham and Effingham counties had 10,686.8 STD cases combined. Four years later, that number was 11,221.14. The increase was seen mostly in Chatham and Bryan counties.
Three years later, Effingham county saw an almost 22 percent increase in STD cases from the previous year, but after that, the decline continued.
SSU student Kalyn House says she appreciates being able to access information about the Savannah area, but wishes data was available for the school too.
“I know the rates are high. SSU STDs stats should be open for students, not names, just percentages so people can be aware and start getting tested,” she said.
The CDC released a list for the prevention of STDs:
- Reduce number of sex partners
- Mutual monogamy
- Using male condoms
The CDC recommends abstinence as the only fool-proof way to avoid STDs.