Alachua County has the fourth highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases in Florida. According to data released last month by the Florida Department of Health, the county had a rate of 904.3 per 100,000 people, ranking it fourth behind Hamilton, Leon and Gadsden counties.
The data showed 15- to 24-year-olds are most affected. Teresa Mercado-White said chlamydia is the No. 1 STD affecting people in these age groups.
Mercado-White, a minority AIDS coordinator for the Alachua County Health Department, said the rate is high because of the increase in the number of people getting tested.
“People are passing it around like pudding,” she said.
Samantha Evans, a sexual health educator with GatorWell Health Promotion Services, agreed. She said the more people who get tested, the larger the potential to see those tests come back positive.
Evans said the high numbers of STDs may still be a reason for concern, adding that there needs to be continued support for educational programs.
“Continued funding and even more resources need to be available to the organizations with preventative programs,” she said.
Isis Barnes, a 20-year-old UF biology sophomore and the incoming president of Respect Yourself, Check Yourself, Protect Yourself Movement at UF, said students should receive sex education before attending college.
Unfortunately, this is often not the case, she said.
“I feel like it could be broadened or taken to another level because obviously, what we’re doing is not working,” she said.