STD cases drastically climb in California

The total number of cases represents a 45 percent increase over five years, according to a press release.

California hit record numbers of new infections of sexually transmitted diseases in 2017, with almost 300,000 cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, according to a report by the state health department and published Monday.

That latter stat is particularly troubling to public health officials given the long-term dangers of untreated syphilis, which can cause brain damage. "Most people infected with an STD do not know it".

Chlamydia and gonorrhea were the most rampant among people under 30, with rates of chlamydia highest among young women.

If left untreated, chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pelvic pain, according to the CDPH. Syphilis can cause permanent loss of vision, hearing and other neurologic problems.

Officials revealed that there were 30 stillbirths linked to congenital syphilis in 2017, the highest reported since 1995.

In California, 75,450 gonorrhea cases were reported in 2017, marking it the highest number since 1988. Symptoms include abnormal discharge and a burning sensation during urination, though these signs may not appear for weeks. Thirty-three percent of cases involved people under 25 while rates among men were twice as high as women.

CDPH is collaborating with local health departments and organizations throughout the state to raise awareness. Public health clinics have been forced to close, and less money is allocated towards sexual education programs in high schools and universities.

Idaho health officials said the rise in STD rates paralleled the use of mobile dating apps.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea rates among African-Americans were almost five times higher than caucasians, CDPH found. African-Americans reported more than twice the rate for early syphilis than caucasians.

"While there are advocates and champions for cancer, nobody is out there saying, 'I have gonorrhea and these are the best ways to treat it.' There's no one out there being a champion for these conditions."

CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Karen Smith said that STDs can be prevented by consistent use of condoms.

Several factors contribute to increases in infection rates.

More than two million new cases of all three infections were reported in the United States in 2016 - the most ever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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