As we can see on that picture that I attached, the southern states have the highest rates of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). It caught my eye when I first moved to the South from the North Europe in 2009. I saw the signs in clinics showing very high percentage of STDs compared to the northern states. At first, I was not very sure why the South is dealing with such problems. Since we got in more deeper discussions about the South in our Sociology of the South class, I learned many aspects that made me realize why the South has such bad reputations. First, I never knew about the yellow fever epidemics and the sickle cell anemia until now. Memphis, and also many other southern states dealt with horrible spares of yellow fever. It killed tremendous amount of people. Furthermore, Memphis was actually very attractive place for the immigrants, for example, from Germany, or Ireland, who after the yellow fever hit the city, fled away to other cities. I believe Memphis could have been a great city if all of those immigrants would have stayed here. It would have made the city more multicultural; moreover, foreigners would have brought in more money and the high percentages of STDs that the city faces today could have been prevented. The city could have been similar to Atlanta. Unfortunately, it went different way and Memphis had to deal with many negative problems that affect the city until today.
The sickle cell anemia and yellow fever are not the big issues no more, now Memphis and the South deals with the STDs. The numbers are very high among minority groups. The African-Americans have almost 50% higher chlamydia rate than whites do. I believe the main reasons are poor access to the healthcare, and poor educational lessons provided to young people at school or at home. Since the South is more religious, I believe many schools and parents do not talk about sexual life very often. I remember back in Estonia, we had a class where we learned about diseases, prevention of pregnancy, and how to avoid certain issues. The South is more religious; nevertheless, people have to be more educated about the sexual diseases in order to prevent long-term effects. Also, the people in the South has lower incomes. People do not have the access to health care and will not be able to get cured properly. Another issue is still the high percentage of rural people, and also illegal immigrants who do not believe or are not able to go to regular check-ups.
To sum up, I believe it is sad that Memphis and the South are still looked at as filthy and dirty. The South should fight very hard against those issues to prevent negative images that other states and countries give them. If the outsiders do not see that the South at least gives an good effort to fight against it, a lot of people from other states and countries will not come here and things will never get better then. There are many positive aspects about the South that should be more known to the whole world other than STDs and other diseases that make the South look bad.