SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) -Every year there are 19 million new sexually transmitted infections reported. In Massachusetts, there were over 15,000 reported cases in 2006. That number rose to over 21,000 by 2010. In Springfield, the numbers are even more alarming- there were over 1,800 new cases reported in 2010 alone.
“Part of the issue with adolescents is they’re in a stage of life that’s consumed by magical thinking,” said Dr. Patricia Bailey- Sarnelli. “Adolescents have this thinking that it won’t happen to me.”
There are several factors that have brought the numbers so high. Advancement in technology has played a major role. Women can now get tested with a urine sample instead of just cervical smears that can be painful.
But Dr. Bailey- Sarnelli feels that less people are using condoms because they are relying solely on birth control pills which don’t protect against infections. Many people still don’t have access to condoms. Education and awareness are also reasons for the rise in numbers.
“I think there’s a misconception among the public about the risk of STDs and how many people are in fact affected,” said Dr. Bailey-Sarnelli. “I think those all combine to make the rate higher.”
She’s also noticed an increase in the diagnosis of another disease.
“Herpes is astounding; 20 percent of the population has herpes so it’s another one that’s very problematic,” said Dr. Bailey-Sarnelli.
Doctors say that sexually active people should be tested at least once a year as many STDs can be symptom-free.