Sexually transmitted diseases have taken off in the state of California, which has hit the top of the charts at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for 2016. Santa Barbara County has had similarly “alarming” increases in cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis over the past five years, according to County Public Health.
Chlamydia, by far, is the most transmitted of the recorded bacterial diseases spread by sex. In California, reported cases totaled 198,503 in 2016, 5 percent higher than 2015; in Santa Barbara the total was 2,294. In terms of population, the county was above the state average, with 514.8 chlamydia cases per 100,000 people, compared to the state’s 504.4.
Statewide, the highest rates were found among young women, up one percent over 2015, but chlamydia reports rose by 8 percent among men; it was highest among men between the ages of 20 and 29 years old.
Gonorrhea cropped up the second-most times — 64,677 cases altogether — an increase of 19 percent; that number has doubled in the state since 2012. In Santa Barbara, the County Public Health department reported 316 cases in 2016, a 212 percent increase since 2011. The statewide statistics show that gonorrhea cases rose by 22 percent among men, mostly among those 25 to 29 years of age. Among women, it went up by 14 percent, with the most 20-24 years old.
Early syphilis cases in Santa Barbara County jumped fivefold in as many years, from 5 in 2011 to 25 in 2016. Statewide, the rate was a 19 percent increase between 2015 and 2016, for a total of 11,222 cases. Among women of child-bearing age, cases increased by half, or 1,145 cases altogether.
The details in the CDC report indicated that men who had sex with men accounted for more than half the cases of gonorrhea and syphilis among men in 2016, rising as high as 85 percent of men with syphilis. Among men with a known HIV status, roughly a third of those who were HIV-negative but tested positive for an STD had used HIV pre-exposure prophylactic medication.
Across the board, the study data found that rates of these STDs among African-Americans were two to four times greater than among whites. In the case of chlamydia, this statistic held true for adolescent black women, but the rate had gone down by 8 percent in 2016 compared to 2015.
The final statistic in the CDC report was for infants born with syphilis, or congenital syphilis, cases of which have risen 43 percent between 2015 and 2016. More than 200 cases were reported in 2016 in California, the highest since 1996 and the second highest in the United States. Screening and early treatment were recommended.
County Public Health stated that symptoms may not always be present when a person is infected with these diseases. Routine annual screening for STDs is recommended, as well as discussions with health-care providers.