The Future of STIs in Missouri: A Mixed-Methods Analysis of Cape Girardeau County
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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) continue to be a problem in the United States, the state of Missouri, and Cape Girardeau County alike. Cape Girardeau County, located in the southeast corner of Missouri, is a unique area. With a population of 78,753 as of 2018, Cape County is mid-sized county. Still, the County faces unique problems that other counties within the state do not, like interstate corridors and a University, alongside problems shared by every county in Missouri, like sex education restrictions and funding. The county has also faced a general upwards trend in STI cases from 2008-2017. Each year, the county saw a percent increase in new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. These rates can be linked to increasing populations, population movement, drug use, and lack of education regarding safe sex. Changing these rates towards a downward trend and eventual disease eradication will improve the state of healthcare as well as the health and wealth of all Cape Girardeau residents. Between a statistical analysis, review of current literature, and an interview with a County Health Department official, I highlighted the problems and possible solution for the area. As the county moves forward, changes must be made to needle-exchange programs and sex education methods within the county to improve the health of all.