Reported STDs Reach Record High in California

Grant Boone
May 15, 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.

The California Department of Public Health said Monday that there were more than 300,000 cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and early syphilis reported previous year.

That latter stat is particularly troubling to public health officials given the long-term dangers of untreated syphilis, which can cause brain damage.

Klausner placed much of the blame for the overall STD spike on what he called the "decimation" of public health infrastructure since the 2008 financial crisis.

The statistics show chlamydia and gonorrhea rates were highest among those under age 30. If left untreated, gonorrhea and chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancy. Syphilis can cause permanent loss of vision, hearing and other neurologic problems. Young women have the highest rates of chlamydia, while men have the highest rates of syphilis and gonorrhea. This was the highest number the state recorded since reporting began in 1990.

"In 2017 there were 30 stillbirths due to congenital syphilis in California", officials said.

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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. Symptoms include abnormal discharge and a burning sensation during urination, though these signs may not appear for weeks. DOH is working with local public health agencies and community partners to enhance their capacity to investigate and reduce the spread of STDs.

Klausner said that sexual health - and money for education about sexual health - isn't something people like to talk about. Early detection and treatment can interrupt the steady climb of STD rates. The cases of syphilis and gonorrhoea are more common among men.

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.

Rates for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis have been rising nationally for several years.

The good news is that all three of these once-lethal infections can be easily treated, and even cured, with antibiotics, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Consistent and correct condom use is still the best way to prevent STDs.

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