Sexual Health news - Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Increase in STDs puzzles health officials

On Aug. 15, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) revealed that in the past year, there has been a rise in cases of syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea in the state. All three of these sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) often are asymptomatic, which makes it easy for them to go undiagnosed or mistaken for another condition.

An article in the Los Angeles Times reported that the number of patients in California who tested positively for syphilis increased by 18 percent from 2010 to 2011. In addition, there was a 5 percent increase in chlamydia cases and a 1.5 percent rise in gonorrhea diagnoses. Chlamydia, in particular, has reached an all-time high in the west coast state, affecting 165,000 patients last year alone.

"The longer people have these infections without being treated the more likely it is they are going to develop a complication that will have both health and financial costs," Heidi Bauer, chief of the STD Control Branch of the CDPH, told the news source.

There are prevention efforts throughout the state in place to decrease the outbreak of STDs. Health officials are currently trying to pinpoint the reason behind the sudden increase in numbers. Possible explanations include that more individuals are participating in risky behaviors and that there has been a decrease in funding for local STD programs, which normally provide screenings and clinical services.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends routine testing to catch STDs early. Infections that go undiagnosed can cause health complications, such as infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease. Syphilis, in particular, is easily spread among people. It's passed through direct contact with sores, which typically appear on and around the genital area. However, if diagnosed sooner rather than later, it is easily treated.