The rate of two sexually transmitted diseases went up in San Diego County through 2014, according to the county’s Health and Human Services Agency.
Local doctors reported 3,391 cases of gonorrhea in 2014, an 18 percent jump from 2013. Men between the ages of 20 and 29 had the highest rate of infection, and cases found in men were nearly double that of women, according to the county.
Syphilis had a lesser increase, rising 6 percent from 347 cases in 2013 to 369 cases in 2014. County health officials said the majority of cases were in men.
“Gonorrhea and syphilis cases increased across the nation in 2014, and San Diego was no exception,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer, in a statement. “It is important that sexually active people continue to take precautionary measures to avoid getting infected with these and other sexually transmitted diseases.”
Chlamydia, on the other hand, dropped in 2014 across the county. That year, 15,626 cases were reported, compared to 16,042 in 2013 – a 2.6 percent decrease. Women were almost twice as likely to have the disease as men.
“Young women between 15 and 24 years of age have the highest rate of chlamydia infections,” said M. Winston Tilghman, M.D, senior physician and STD controller for the County. “Chlamydia and gonorrhea both can result in infertility and other long-term reproductive health issues, which make prevention particularly important in this age group.”
Nationwide, all three kinds of sexually transmitted diseases – gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia – have increased.
Locally, the county says there are profound racial disparities in regards to STDs, as African Americans have the highest rates of all three mentioned above.
Health officials say of most concern is the rise in congenital syphilis across the country and in some parts of California. Congenital syphilis, a disease that is spread from an infected mother to her unborn child, can lead to multiple birth defects and even the baby’s death.
The increase has not been seen in San Diego, but public health officers say they are monitoring syphilis cases in women.
To prevent contracting an STD, authorities recommend talking openly with your partner and your medical care provider about the diseases, use condoms if you’re sexually active, practice monogamy and get tested regularly.
The county has four STD clinics, which offer tests and treatment for most STDs, no matter your income. Call 619-293-4700 or visit STDSanDiego.org for more.