Rising Rates of STDs in Minnesota
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) released a new report last week indicating that the number of sexually transmitted infections reached an all-time high in 2015. In the past 5 years, STDs have jumped 33% in Minnesota.
The report from MDH further reveals that STD rates are especially high among young adults, 15-to-24-year-olds (the same age group First Care centers most often serve), with this age group accounting for 64% of all chlamydia cases and 47% of gonorrhea cases in 2015. One out of every two sexually active young adults will have an STD by the time they are 25.
1 out of every 2 sexually active young adults will have an STD by the time they are 25.
“It’s a huge epidemic. People need to be concerned about this and students need to be tested regularly. The people in our communities and our youth need more than just quality comprehensive STD testing and treatment, they need education about STD symptoms and the lifelong impact of some of these STDs,” said Tammy Kocher, Executive Director for New Life Family Services.
First Care Testing on the Rise
First Care Pregnancy Center added STD testing to our free services in 2013. In that first year, 77 individuals received STD testing. Just two years later, the number jumped exponentially with 537 men and women receiving testing in 2015. And so far in 2016, STD testing numbers for the first three months of the year are double that from the same time period last year.
“When we added free STD testing and treatment to our First Care centers in 2013, we knew there was a growing need for quality and comprehensive testing, but we didn’t realize how much of an impact this service would have on people. It has brought incredible opportunities to help people navigate difficult life choices and consequences with the love and compassion of Christ,” said Kocher. “The response from students and the community has been overwhelmingly positive.”
“When we added STD testing, we really wanted to be unique in providing free testing and treatment for all STDs, not just the few most common and easily tested and treated.”
Kocher attributes some of the rapid success to First Care’s unique approach. “When we added STD testing, we really wanted to be unique in providing free testing and treatment for all STDs, not just the few most common and easily tested and treated. There aren’t many other organizations providing this service for free, and for us it was important to make sure that what were offering was both quality and comprehensive. We also knew that we were in a unique position as a pregnancy center and adoption agency to be able to provide emotional and spiritual support alongside this much-needed medical service. It’s heartbreaking to share with someone that they have an STD and that it may impact them for the rest of their lives. We recognize the privilege we have in those moments to care for people not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. As a result of our wholistic approach to STD testing, we see clients making decisions that affirm faith, forgiveness, and life,” said Kocher.
STD Testing Leads to Faith
Client Care Nurse, Julie, added, “STD testing is one of those situations where someone finds themselves vulnerable, and they realize the mistakes they’ve made may have long lasting consequences. These conversations can definitely lead to spiritual things and ultimately change their lives.”
“STD testing is one of those situations where someone finds themselves vulnerable, and they realize the mistakes they’ve made may have long lasting consequences. These conversations can definitely lead to spiritual things and ultimately change their lives.”
And that is exactly what is happening every day in our centers. One student said after a recent visit to our center for testing, “I’ve totally changed my mindset after talking with the staff at First Care and I want to change my life around. I want to know more about Jesus and I’m choosing to not have sex anymore. I’m going to focus on school and figuring out what my goals are.”
Another student shared, “I thought it was really cool when the nurse prayed for me; I hadn’t been prayed for in months and it meant a lot to me.”
Another young man came in to a First Care Clinic for STD testing, and while Julie, his nurse, was taking his sexual behavior medical inventory, he shared that he’d had over 200 sexual partners and was worried he might be addicted to sex. Julie and this young man talked through the possibility that he was getting his sense of value and love from different women. The young man agreed he needed to attach his sense of worth to something bigger and more permanent that a human being. He decided he was ready to accept Christ as his Savior, and there in the STD interview room they prayed together.
STD Testing Leads to Forgiveness
A married women came into have an STD test after having an extramarital affair. She confided in our nurse that she believed the mistakes she’d made in her life were unforgivable, and she didn’t believe God could help her. Our nurse took that opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus’ never-ending forgiveness; and it was through that conversation, that the women decided to pray for forgiveness, and accept God’s grace.
STD Testing Leads to Life
One young woman came to one of our First Care centers for STD testing. Six months later she found herself with an unplanned pregnancy, and came back to First Care, believing abortion was her only option. But after going through our decision making process, having an ultrasound and learning about the support available to her, she ended up choosing life for her baby, and she and her family rallied around her decision.
Our Client Care Nurse, Julie, discusses how STD testing is impacting the community and campus.
New Life Family Services provides free STD testing through our First Care Pregnancy Centers. STD testing and treatment are currently offered at our Minneapolis center, near the University of Minnesota, and our Rochester center. Make an appointment here, or learn more about STD symptoms and treatment.