California marks record high STD's in 2017

Faith Castro
May 16, 2018

Young women made up the majority of chlamydia cases; men accounted for the majority of syphilis and gonorrhea cases.

A new report finds that the number of reported sexually transmitted disease (STD) cases in California reached a record high in 2017-and public health officials are particularly concerned about a sharp rise in stillbirths related to congenital syphilis.

In California, 75,450 gonorrhea cases were reported in 2017, marking it the highest number since 1988.

While the health department is now planning a public effort to spread awareness about the dangers of STDs and how to protect against them, the head of the state's STD Control Branch said budget issues likely played a role in the uptick of cases.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are most common among people under 30, the report said, warning that rates of the diseases may be indicators of a struggling public health system. Many people with STD do not know they have it. "Seeing it come back like this is a sign of failure of the public health safety net", Dr. Jeffery Klausner, a professor of medicine of the University of California, Los Angeles, told the Associated Press.

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If not treated, chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause infertility, long-term pelvic pain and ectopic pregnancy - when the fetus grows outside the uterus.

"Regular testing and treatment are very important for people who are sexually active, even for people who have no symptoms", Smith added.

Reported instances of syphilis also increased. If left untreated, gonorrhea can increase chances of getting or transmitting HIV.

Early syphilis, which includes the primary, secondary and early latent stages of the disease, reached the highest number of cases since 1987, the agency found. It can occur after direct contact with a syphilis sore during sexual intercourse. Untreated syphilis can lead to permanent vision loss, hearing, and other neurologic problems. Los Angeles County alone saw congenital syphilis cases jump from eight in 2013 to 47 previous year.

'We've known how to control syphilis since early 1900s. In 2017, there were 278 stillbirths and 47 babies born with congenital syphilis in LA. According to health officials, STDs are largely curable and can be easily prevented by taking measures to practice safe sex.

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