Saturday, July 8, 2017

Getting tested at the Center.

Now that I have been separated for more than a year, I have had several relationships. To be safe, I decided to go to The Center, (946 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803). STD testing is free and the results are returned within 12 minutes. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are tested through urine. The syphilis test is a finger prick, and the results are available within a few minutes. Of course waiting for the testing is what takes time. I finished 2 sketches in the time it took for me to go in for my test. The HIV test results are considered 99% accurate, so I will be returning for a second test just to be 100% certain. Orange County reported the third highest number of HIV cases in 2014 and the state leads the nation in the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases.

A case worker went over the results with me and his assessment of the statistics of STDs in Central Florida were astounding. As he put it, Whorlando is the first in the country for cases of Syphilis, third in the country for Chlamydia, and fifth in the country for Gonorrhea. The number of cases reported rose by over 10,000 in 2015.

The Center for Disease Control published its study on sexually transmitted diseases, reviewing rates from 2015, and found an increase in chlamydia and gonorrhea. Syphilis rates increased the most among the three diseases, seeing a 19 percent increase from 2014. Rates among women went up 27.3 percent, and 18.1 percent among men. Rates of reported chlamydia cases increased by 5.9 percent when compared to 2014 numbers.

Women with chlamydia increased 3.8 percent from 2014, and 10.5 percent among men in the same year. Gonorrhea cases increased by 12.8 percent when compared to the previous year. Men saw the largest increase at 18.3 percent, while women diagnosed with gonorrhea increased by a rate of 6.8 percent.

The alarming rate of STD infections increasing across the country has been attributed to the closing of 21 health care facilities. A younger demographic also seems to feel they are immune or can get early treatment, despite their lack of knowledge. We are lucky to still have the Center here in Orlando. The Center was ground zero after the Pulse Nightclub massacre. Since I have been so involved in following Orlando's healing process after that horrible night, it makes sense for me to frequent the Center to be sure I am healthy.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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