STDs Hit Record High in California

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The California Department of Public Health released its yearly report Monday, calling 2017 a record year for cases.

Health experts have a number of theories as to why all these STDs are on the rise. As many as 218,710 cases of chlamydia were recorded, marking the highest rate since 1990.

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.

State officials are particularly concerned by a spike in stillbirths due to congenital syphilis. From 2016 to 2017, there were as many cases of congenital syphilis as in the previous 10 years combined.

Syphilis can cause permanent loss of vision, hearing and other neurological problems.

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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. And the infection can also spread from mother to child, resulting in a higher number of stillbirths. Congenital syphilis is a growing problem in Washington.

The "Gonorrhea Alert" campaign follows a prior 'Syphilis is Serious' AHF campaign launched earlier this year highlighting prevention and treatment of syphilis. Many people with STD do not know they have it.

The "public health safety net" Klausner refers to has been decimated by budget cuts since the 2008 financial crisis.

For the health officials, the increase is more alarming than ever considering the fact that the number of sexually transmitted disease has increased each year for six years.

The CDPH expressed plans to collaborate with local health departments and organizations in order to raise awareness about regular testing, safe sex practices, risks and treatment options, etc.

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Klausner said that sexual health - and money for education about sexual health - isn't something people like to talk about.

Officials are also increasing efforts to follow up on cases, especially those involving pregnant women with syphilis, she said.

"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, '" Klausner told the Associated Press.

"STDs are preventable by consistently using condoms, and many STDs can be cured with antibiotics", said Department of Public Health Director Dr. Karen Smith.

"So in San Francisco, we recommend young women 25 and under get screened for chlamydia and gonorrhea every year with their provider".

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