Last Updated: May 3, 2021 Written by Testing.com Editorial Staff
STD infection rates are on the rise nationally, and the recently released 2018 Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report from the CDC shows particularly high rates in some areas of Tennessee. The state ranks 11th for gonorrhea, 17th for chlamydia, and 22nd for syphilis. In Davidson County, which includes the Nashville area, rates of chlamydia are high at 659.3 per 100,000 residents (using 2016 data), which is much higher than the statewide rate of 489.4.
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Testing for STDs at home is safe, convenient, and private. Performed regularly, it can help you stay healthy and avoid unknowingly transmitting STDs.
You have many options for at-home STD testing. The best at-home STD tests are FDA approved and evaluated for safety and accuracy with fast result turnaround times and support from health care professionals.
At-home STD testing kits should include instructions for collection and test registration, along with materials such as containers and swabs to collect and send your sample to the lab. Most at-home STD tests offer results in about five days through a secure online patient portal.
The overall trends in Davidson County, TN, which includes Nashville, show increasingly high rates for the city’s three most common STDs — chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
The reported cases of chlamydia have increased dramatically since the low rate of 360.7 in 2001 — the first year in which data was available in Davidson County. In 2018, the infection rate per 100,000 residents was 777.2, which is more than double the lowest recorded rate. In raw numbers, there were 2,086 cases in 2001 and 5,383 cases in 2018. While the rate of infection in Davidson County is low compared to Madison County (959 per 100,000 residents), Davidson is second only to Shelby County for the total number of reported cases.
Cases of Chlamydia in Davidson County, Reported Years
Gonorrhea rates have fluctuated dramatically from year to year in Davidson County. For example, in 2003, the infection rate was 253.7, and it dropped to just 204.4 in 2004. More recently, rates hit 272 in 2016, falling to 239.6 in 2017 and rising back up to 271.7 in 2018. While the rate remains slightly below the 2017 high, the number of cases is up, hitting 1,882 in 2018 — eight more cases than in 2016. Since the low of 871 cases in 2009, infection numbers have increased by more than 116%.
While syphilis was almost entirely eradicated in the United States in the early 2000s, it has recently resurfaced. Over the past five years, rates in Tennessee increased from a state average of 14.9 in 2014 to 25.7 in 2018. Davidson County and the Nashville area report even higher rates of infection, with a rate that reached 57.6 in 2018 — 124.1% higher than the state infection rate per 100,000.
Cases of Syphilis in Tennessee, 2014-2018
Many STDs may not have symptoms immediately after infection, but the lack of symptoms doesn’t mean there are no effects. With long-term exposure, patients may experience organ damage and infertility. The only way to be sure about your status is with comprehensive STD testing. Even if you think your risk factors are low, a negative test is the best way to ensure reproductive and sexual health.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain one of the most critical public health challenges facing the United States, with approximately 26 million new STD infections occurring every year. Nearly half of these new infections affect young people ages 15 to 24.
Community-based organizations are a vital first line of defense in the fight against STDs and HIV/AIDS in particular. They generate awareness and foster social change while providing access to testing and treatment.
You may not be aware of all the STD resources in Nashville that can help prevent the spread of STDs. Get connected with these community organizations that are leading the fight against STDs and HIV/AIDS with resources and support:
Planned Parenthood – Nashville Health Center
Planned Parenthood offers STD testing and treatment at Nashville Health Center. Testing covers a range of possible infections, including bacterial vaginosis, genital warts, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, and herpes. This center also provides transmission prevention options such as condoms and HPV vaccines, along with education on how and when to use these methods. Planned Parenthood accepts insurance, including Medicaid, and appointments can be scheduled online. For those without insurance, pricing information is available by calling 866-711-1717.
Operated by Nashville Public Health, the Sexual Health Center offers a variety of testing, treatment, and counseling options for those who may have contracted an STD. In addition to testing for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, this health center also provides partner contact services to notify those who may have been exposed, helping to reduce and control the spread of disease. To schedule an appointment, call 615-340-5647, Monday and Wednesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On Tuesdays, the clinic is open until 6 p.m. Walk-ins may be seen based on staffing availability.
Lentz Public Health Center 2500 Charlotte Avenue, Suite 110 Nashville, TN 37209 Multiple Nashville locations 615-340-5647 nashville.gov
PrEP Clinic at the Sexual Health Center
Nashville Public Health’s Sexual Health Center also operates a PrEP clinic that provides pre-exposure prophylaxis prescriptions to those at high risk of contracting HIV in addition to standard STD screenings. While insurance information may be requested, all clinic patients pay a $10 co-pay for screenings and appointments. The staff also work to ensure the affordability of prescriptions through a patient assistance program, helping to reduce the out-of-pocket costs to something more manageable than the $3,000 to $4,000 per month estimated cost of PrEP prescription drugs. Walk-ins who arrive before 2:30 p.m. on a weekday may be seen, depending on availability.
Lentz Public Health Center 2500 Charlotte Avenue, Suite 110 Nashville, TN 37209 615-340-5647 nashville.gov
Street Works is a nonprofit organization that offers community outreach designed to educate individuals about the risks and prevention of STDs, with a focus on HIV. It regularly schedules mobile, community-wide HIV awareness events and offers immediate testing at the location. Working with a variety of community partners such as barbershops, nail salons, retail shops, and clinics, Street Works passes out free prevention and safer sex kits that include condoms.
For those concerned about possible HIV exposure, Nashville CARES offers free, confidential testing that takes less than three minutes for the initial result. Those who test positive will be linked to medical care and start medication on the day of diagnosis, be provided counseling to help manage their disease and case management to help determine any additional services that may be needed. Nashville CARES offers all of its services regardless of patients’ financial status. Nashville CARES also provides Hepatitis C, syphilis and COVID testing with rapid results. Testing is available Monday – Friday. To schedule an appointment call (615) 761-4474.
Cempa Community Care offers free testing for HIV, Hep C, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Both Hep C and HIV test results are available within 20 minutes, while it may take up to two weeks to get results for other STDs. Walk-ins are welcome during clinic hours, which run from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 8 a.m.. until 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. on Fridays. Counseling is available before and after testing, along with educational services, general health care services, and access to support groups.
1042 East 3rd Street, Suite 200 Chattanooga, TN 37403 Multiple Nashville locations 423-265-2273 cempa.org