Could higher STD rates mean more people are getting tested?
When a city or region experiences a hike in rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), public officials sometimes panic and issue warnings to populations who may be especially at risk of contracting an infection. However, this wasn't the case during a recent uptick in San Francisco.
The San Francisco Examiner reported that when the rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis went up, health officials chalked it up to higher rates of STD testing in San Francisco, California.
"Many people are asymptomatic" said Kyle Bernstein, of the city's department of health, quoted by the news source. "So the more screening you do, the more you will find."
Apparently, the prevalence of gonorrhea went up by 15.4 percent between 2010 and 2011, while the number of chlamydia cases rose by 3 percent and rates of syphilis cases went up by 3.5 percent. Men who have sex with men (MSM) appear to have a higher risk of rectal gonorrhea, with rates increasing by nearly 30 percent from 2010 to 2011.
Bernstein added that STDs are endemic in San Francisco.
"The number of cases [is] not going to be zero. What we can hope for is a turn of the tide for the numbers to start going down as opposed to increasing," Bernstein said, quoted by the news source.
Individuals concerned about becoming infected with an STD should know the basics of safer sex. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using condoms each time an individual has sex, getting tested for STDs with each new partner and avoiding becoming intoxicated to the point that decision-making skills are impaired.