Local health officials alarmed over increase in STD cases - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Local health officials alarmed over increase in STD cases

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The numbers are in and sexually transmitted diseases have skyrocketed.

This is not only true for the State of California but also San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

More than two-million new cases of STDs were reported in the U.S. last year alone. This is a record, with chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis topping the list.

Dr. Penny Borenstein of the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department says there are a few possible reasons why.

"For one thing, there has been some antibiotic resistance to some of the treatments," she said.

She also says the significant health risks of sexually transmitted diseases are often underestimated.

"STDs make it more likely for HIV to be contracted and also women can go on to have infertility," she continued.

Another big problem, there are often no symptoms so people can infect another person without even knowing it.

Condoms are the best way to prevent an STD.

In fact, Planned Parenthood California Central Coast says it distributes more than 600,000 condoms to patients at its five health centers each year.

In Santa Barbara County, there has been a 400-percent increase in cases of syphilis from 2011 to 2016, according to county health officials. Gonorrhea is up 212-percent and chlamydia is up 29 percent.

The numbers are up in San Luis Obispo County, too.

  • Syphilis
    • 2017 (Jan.-June): 8
    • 2016: 18
    • 2015: 9
    • 2014: 5
    • 2013: 5
    • 2012: 10
  • Gonorrhea
    • 2017 (Jan.-June): 91
    • 2016: 231
    • 2015: 165
    • 2014: 153
    • 2013: 58
    • 2012: 86
  • Chlamydia
    • 2017 (Jan.-June):628
    • 2016: 1142
    • 2015: 1072
    • 2014: 1034
    • 2013: 1004
    • 2012: 866

"These new reports showing that rates are increasing really point to the fact that there is a critical need in our communities and that these health services and education must be fully funded in order to address this crisis," said Jenna Tosh, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood California Central Coast.

The surge in dating apps could also be to blame.

The age group of 15 to 24 has the highest number of cases.

"It certainly is reasonable to think that there is an increase in the way youth, in particular, are hooking up more frequently," Dr. Borenstein concluded.

The diseases are treatable with antibiotics. However, gonorrhea has only one drug left that's effective against it, leaving health officials concerned.

Another thing to keep in mind, you're more at risk for HIV when you have an STD.

Related coverage:
Sexually transmitted diseases hit another high in the U.S.

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