History, Hookers & Hashish
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Robbie regularly visits the Dutch Area Health Authority (locally known as Gemeentelijke GezondheidsDienst or GGD abbreviated) to get an STD test. Every time he makes up a fake story so he doesn’t have to pay. “I don’t feel like paying 90 Euros for a regular STD test in Holland. So I check some extra marks on the application form”. Robbie isn’t alone. GGD’s across Holland suspect that people regularly lie to get a free test. This fact has emerged after research done by the Dutch news agency NOS. “It’s a daily occurrence”, states the spokesperson for GGD Gelderland-Zuid. “Our doctor assistants have almost become police officers. We know this is happening because everyone uses the same story when they call us. The story apparently has been doing the rounds at students’ guilds.”
The 2015 stricter rules were implemented for getting a free STD test and the total number of STD tests that could be done by GGD’s was decreased. Only people who are a part of so called “high risk groups” can get a free STD test in Holland. Youths under the age of 25, homosexuals and sex workers are considered high risk groups. Those not part of a high risk group can still get a free STD test in Holland if they are warned by their sexual partner, have obvious symptoms, or if they had sex with someone from a high risk group.
The GGD’s determine via a screening procedure if people are granted the free STD test. People who are not part of the aforementioned high-risk categories have to go to their general practitioner. You often have to pay your own bill if you get tested there because of the obligatory deductible that comes with health insurance in Holland. The bill for an STD test can run up to 200 Euro and doing the test at your general practitioner is of course less anonymous.
These rules and costs give big incentives to people to make up symptoms, lie about their age or exaggerate their sexual past. Some GGD’s inform the NOS that people openly admit to this once they are accepted into to the consultation. Statistics also show that people don’t always tell the truth. “We know that with certain typical excuses, less STD’s will be found than expected”, states a spokesperson for GGD Noord- en Oost-Gelderland. “The detection percentage is remarkably low”.
The Dutch RIVM, responsible for coordinating the national health services, recognises the observations. “Despite a strict screening, people are able to get a free STD test in Holland. We have noticed a relationship between the higher obligatory deductible and the increase in GGD-testers”. Even though many GGD’s doubt the claims made by some of the applicants they seldom send someone home because of it. “When someone is at the free consultation, even though they shouldn’t be there, our professionals would still rather help them instead of sending them away” states GGD Zeeland. “Taking care of people is our line of work”.
According to the RIVM the number of people who got an STD test in Holland has decreased for the first time in years. This is in part due to the fact that less people can be tested. However, the detection percentage has increased, which means that more just applicants have been tested. For this reason GGD’s are still satisfied with the current state of the program. “Our detection percentage has been increasing for years”, states GGD for the Utrecht region. “We’ve observed that also the right people get a consultation!”.
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A total of 66,000 people were tested in the first half of 2016. The number of people who actually had an STD increased from 16.7 percent to 18.2 percent. 9,429 people were diagnosed with Chlamydia. An increase of 6 percent compared to 2015. Chlamydia is especially prevalent among females and heterosexual males. The number of Gonorrhoea infections has also increased by 12 percent to 2,800.
In the past it affected mostly homosexuals but the last few years heterosexuals have been getting the infection at an increasing rate. Infectious Syphilis has increased from 446 to 629 cases. This STD is more common among homosexuals. A total of 125 people got an LGV-infection. This is an aggressive variant of anal chlamydia. In the first half of 2015 there were only 88 cases.