STDs reach all-time high in California

Reported STD Cases Reach New High in California, Health Officials Find

The number of reported sexually transmitted diseases in California has reached an all-time high, according to the state's Department of Public Health.

The state recorded the highest number of chlamydia cases since reporting started in 1990, the agency said.

If left untreated, both chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to serious reproductive health problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease or infertility, according to the study.

According to the state report, officials are most concerned about an uptick in the number of stillbirths due to congenital syphilis. Syphilis can lead to blindness, hearing loss and neurological issues, the wire service said.

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. That's "shameful", says Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine at University of California, Los Angeles. Being diagnosed with syphilis during pregnancy can also put the unborn baby at risk of having a low birth weight, being delivered early or death (stillbirth). That could be a lingering effect of the 2008 financial crisis, when the state budget slashed public health funding.

As students are warned in high school health classes, sexually transmitted diseases can have risky consequences.

She estimated that about $20 million in state and federal money is allocated yearly to fighting STDs - a small number in a state with almost 40 million residents. Many people with STD do not know they have it.

The state health agency says it's working with local health departments and other organizations throughout the state to raise awareness about STDs.

Klausner said that sexual health - and money for education about sexual health - isn't something people like to talk about. Someone who depended on public clinics for STD screening and treatment may not want to discuss it with their doctor, or may not have a doctor at all, 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.

Rates for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis have been rising nationally for several years.

"We all need to keep making the public aware of and encourage sexually-active individuals to get tested for STDs on a regular basis-and be treated, if and as necessary-and to also use tools like condoms to prevent or reduce the likelihood of infections".

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