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County STD rates rise for third consecutive year

REGION — Reported cases and rates of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia rose in 2017 for the third consecutive year and are at the highest level in 20 years, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

Cases of all three diseases increased by 10 percent or more from 2016 to 2017. Syphilis cases rose from 981 to 1,130, pushing the overall rate to 34.1 cases per 100,000 people. Cases of chlamydia increased 10 percent from 18,904 to 20,801, and the number of gonorrhea cases increased 19.1 percent from 4,992 to 5,947.

In addition to the rises in overall contraction rates, black and Hispanic/Latino men accounted for syphilis rates of 92.1 and 82.8 cases per 100,000 people, respectively, while white men had a contraction rate of 53 cases per 100,000 people.

“The number of STDs increased in the state and the nation last year, and San Diego was no exception,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “Sexually active people should take precautionary measures to avoid getting infected and get tested on a regular basis since many STDs don’t show any symptoms and may go unnoticed until complications develop.”

County health officials noted that San Diego has not seen a rise in congenital syphilis cases similar to nationwide and statewide increases. M. Winston Tilghman, the county’s STD controller, advised all expectant mothers in the county to be tested for syphilis during their first prenatal care visit.

“Congenital syphilis is completely preventable if the mother is diagnosed and appropriately treated for syphilis in a timely manner,” Tilghman said.

County health officials advised residents to take precautionary steps to protect against contracting a sexually transmitted disease, including the use of condoms, seeking regular testing and talking with one’s partner and medical care provider about possible risks.

Residents can call the county Health and Human Services Agency’s HIV, STD and Hepatitis Branch at (619) 293-4700 to learn more about clinical services the county offers.