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STD cases drastically climb in California

16 May 2018

California is in the midst of a sexually-transmitted disease (STD) epidemic, and it's so bad that the number of stillbirths due to syphilis has reached a 20-year high, U.S. News & World Report is reporting.

STDs are booming in California, with health officials anxious about a 45% increase over the last five years. The cases of syphilis and gonorrhoea are more common among men. Gonorrhea cases saw a 16 percent increase in the same time frame but affected twice as many men than women.

There were 13,605 early syphilis cases reported in 2017, people reporting the first stage of the disease marked by sores in or around the mouth and genitals. Syphilis may also cause neurological problems, as well as permanent loss of vision and hearing.

CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Karen Smith said that STDs can be prevented by consistent use of condoms.

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Rates for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis have been rising nationally for several years. A lack of access to free public clinics in some parts of California could be driving infections, UCLA professor of medicine Dr. Jeffrey Klausner posits.

Klausner pointed to the nations of Cuba, Thailand and Belarus, which have virtually eliminated syphilis cases among infants, the AP reported.

In the last few years, Kern County has seen sexually transmitted disease rates soar, putting Kern's STD rates among the highest in the state.

'We've known how to control syphilis since early 1900s.

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Klausner placed much of the blame for the overall STD spike on what he called the "decimation" of public health infrastructure since the 2008 financial crisis.

That latter stat is particularly troubling to public health officials given the long-term dangers of untreated syphilis, which can cause brain damage. "Regular testing and treatment are very important for people who are sexually active, even for people who have no symptoms". There were 30 in 2017, California's highest number since 1995. While it may be transmitted through vaginal, anal, or oral sex, it can also be passed on from a woman to her baby during childbirth.

Meanwhile, California health authorities are doing just about all they can do, with limited resources, to combat the problem. Many STDs can be cured with antibiotics if attacked quickly.

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STD cases drastically climb in California