Sonora, CA – Across the state and right here in the Mother Lode the number of reported Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) are climbing at an alarming rate, according to health officials.
Calaveras County’s Health Officer Dr. Dean Kelaita called it a “significant increase” in residents diagnosed with STDs in 2017. He adds the cases of gonorrhea increased from 12 in 2016 to 21 in 2017, while cases of syphilis increased from 6 to 10 during the same time period. Dr. Kelaita surmises, “The main reason is that in Calaveras County there is not good access to medical care for STDs. So, there is a shortage of medical providers, doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants at clinics and private practice offices to see for STD treatment and prevention.”
In Tuolumne County the overall numbers are a little better. The cases of chlamydia rose by 8 from 138 in 2016 to 146 last year. The highest jump was for gonorrhea cases, which increased by 13 in 2017 to 47 cases from 34 the prior year. Meanwhile, the only bright spot is the number of syphilis cases that dropped by 8 from 29 to 21.
Statewide there were similar increases in STD rates as tallied in a California Department of Public Health report. It found more than 300,000 cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and early syphilis reported in 2017, which is a hike of 45 percent in five years. Particularly concerning, according to health officials, were the 30 stillbirths due to congenital syphilis in 2017 — the highest number reported since 1995.
A worrisome swing, states Dr. Kelaita, especially since STDs are easily prevented by using a condom during sex. He expounds, “That’s been shown to be highly effective in preventing disease transmission. Other things people can do if they think they are at risk or have STD symptoms is to seek medical attention right away because they can be tested. In most cases, STDs can be treated with antibiotics or relatively simple treatments.”
Calaveras County is currently offering free condoms through the mail, click here for details.