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Report shows STDs in California at all-time high

15 May 2018

The Golden State has seen a almost 45 percent increase in three of the most serious STD's - syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea - since five years ago: 300,000 such cases in 2017.

A record number of Californians were diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) in 2017, according to a new report released by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

Chlamydia and gonorrhea were the most rampant among people under 30, with rates of chlamydia highest among young women. If left untreated, gonorrhea and chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancy. Syphilis can result in blindness, hearing loss and neurologic problems. Thirty-three percent of cases involved people under 25 while rates among men were twice as high as women. From 2016 to 2017, there were as many cases of congenital syphilis as in the previous 10 years combined.

The report showed there were 218,710 cases of chlamydia and 75,450 cases of gonorrhea a year ago.

CDPH is collaborating with local health departments and organizations throughout the state to raise awareness.

She estimated that about $20 million in state and federal money is allocated yearly to fighting STDs - a small number in a state with almost 40 million residents. According to the CDC, most people with chlamydia don't have symptoms, or those symptoms may not appear for several weeks. That could be a lingering effect of the 2008 financial crisis, when the state budget slashed public health funding.

Idaho health officials said the rise in STD rates paralleled the use of mobile dating apps.

The health department is spearheading a "multi-pronged" effort to educate the public about the risks and get the word out to medical providers about the latest advances in screening and treatment, Bauer said. Men accounted for the majority of syphilis and gonorrhea cases.

"While there are advocates and champions for cancer, nobody is out there saying, 'I have gonorrhea and these are the best ways to treat it.' There's no one out there being a champion for these conditions."
STDs may also be more prevalent among vulnerable communities with low incomes, drug addiction problems, or mental illness.

CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Karen Smith said that STDs can be prevented by consistent use of condoms.

When it comes to gonorrhea, Kern is fourth in the state with 2,265 reported cases.

Report shows STDs in California at all-time high