The number of Californians diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases reached record levels in 2017, according to a recent report from the California Department of Public Health.
The report states more than 300,000 cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and early syphilis were recorded last year, which is a 45 percent increase from the rates seen five years ago, according to the CDPH.
Also in 2017, there were 30 stillbirths due to congenital syphilis in California. This is the highest number reported since 1995. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the most commonly reported sexually transmitted bacterial infections in California. These infections often cause no symptoms. Tests and treatment are available. If not treated, chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to serious reproductive health problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pelvic pain.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. Early syphilis includes primary, secondary, and early latent stages of the disease. Untreated infection can lead to long term health problems, including permanent loss of vision, hearing and brain disease and increases both transmission and acquisition of HIV. Tests and treatments are available.
Congenital syphilis is an infection transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy or delivery. Congenital syphilis can cause severe illness in babies including premature birth, low birth weight, birth defects, blindness, and hearing loss. It can also lead to stillbirth and infant death. Tests and treatment for pregnant women are readily available.
In California there were 218,710 chlamydia cases reported in 2017, which accounts for a rate of 552.1 cases per 100,000 residents. This rate is an increase of 9 percent from the year prior and the highest number since 1990. Chlamydia cases were 60 percent higher among women than men and 54 percent were diagnosed in people 25 years and younger.
Among gonorrhea cases the state reached the highest rate since 1988, with 75,450 cases in 2017, according to the CDPH. In 2017, the rate of gonorrhea was 190.5 cases per 100,000 Californians, a 16 percent increase over 2016. Gonorrhea rates among males were two-fold higher than among females and 33 percent of the cases were among people younger than 25 years.
In Stanislaus County there were 2,535 cases of chlamydia in 2017, according to the CDPH.
Also in Stanislaus County the combined rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea among 17 to 24-year olds fell within a range of 1,500 to 1,999.99 per 100,000 residents, according to the state's Sexually Transmitted Disease Control Branch.
In 2017, the rate of early syphilis was 34.3 cases per 100,000 Californians, an increase of 20 percent over 2016. The 13,605 early syphilis cases reported in 2017 (6,633 primary/secondary and 6,972 early latent) was the highest number recorded since 1987.
Last year also marked the fifth consecutive year that the state has seen an increase in the number of infants born with congenital syphilis.
"STDs are preventable by consistently using condoms, and many STDs can be cured with antibiotics," said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. "Regular testing and treatment are very important for people who are sexually active, even for people who have no symptoms. Most people infected with an STD do not know it." CDPH is collaborating with local health departments and organizations throughout the state to raise awareness. CDPH is working with the California Department of Education and community groups to implement the newly enacted California Healthy Youth Act, which mandates comprehensive STD/HIV prevention education in schools. Other state efforts leverage innovative strategies such as courses for medical providers and teachers, expedited partner treatment to local clinics, and free and low cost online ordering options for home delivery of condoms and STD test kits.