San Diego considered hotspot for STD''s

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and PreventionHealthDiseases and IllnessesMinority GroupsSocial IssuesSexually Transmitted Diseases

The current statistics from the Centers for Disease Control show that one-in-four women have a sexual transmitted disease. The government said on Monday that STDs continue to rise. Chlamydia cases set another record for 2008.

Last year there were 1.2 million new cases of chlamydia, a sometimes symptomless infection that can lead to infertility in women. It was the most ever reported, up from the old record of 1.1 million cases in 2007.

"We're very concerned. Every year, there are 15-million new cases of sexually transmitted cases reported in the United States," said Vince Hall, director of communications for Planned Parenthood in San Diego.

Better screening is the most likely reason, said Dr. John M. Douglas Jr. of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Syphilis, on the verge of being eliminated in the United States about 10 years ago, also has been increasing lately. About 13,500 cases of the most contagious form of the disease were reported in 2008, up from about 11,500 the year before.

Locally, the number of chylamydia cases increased increased from 2007. There are more than 14,000 reported cases, according to the CDC. The number of syphilis cases leveled off from 2007. There were 344 cases. The number of gonorrhea cases dropped. There were a little over 2,000 cases in the county. According to Hall, the CDC has pinpointed San Diego as a hotspot for STD's and there needs to be better education.

"The reported rates of infection in San Diego County are among the highest in the nation," he said.

Unlike chlamydia, health officials think syphilis cases actually are increasing. Syphilis rates are up among both gay men and heterosexuals, said Douglas, director of the CDC's Division of STD Prevention.

Syphilis can kill if untreated, but chlamydia is not life-threatening. Neither is gonorrhea, which seams to have plateaued in recent years. Gonorrhea cases dropped to about 337,000 cases in 2008, down from about 356,000 cases.

Girls, ages 15 through 19, had the largest reported number of chlamydia and gonorrhea cases, accounting for more than one in four of those cases. But they're often screened more than other people, since 1993 federal recommendations that emphasize testing for sexually active women age 25 and under.

"The thing is, these are all preventable. So when we see numbers like that, especially in such young group of females, it's very alarming," said Marge Kleinsmith, sexual educator for the San Diego Unified School District.

She said despite the increase in numbers nationally, there are positive statistics that the CDC has yet to measure. She said condom use within the school district has increased in recent years.

"The number of students that are having sex has gone down considerably. And we're down to about 38 percent from a high 52 percent in the early 90's," she said.

The government estimates there are roughly 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted disease annually. Experts say the most common is HPV, human papillomavirus, which can cause genital warts, cervical cancer and other cancers.

The government doesn't ask doctors to report every HPV case, but estimates the virus causes 6.2 million new cases each year. That is an old estimate, based on data from 2000, before a vaccine against some types of HPV came on the market in 2006.

The CDC estimates there are 1.6 million new cases of genital herpes each year, but that too is an old estimate for a non-reportable disease.

The agency also estimates there about 56,000 new cases of HIV each year.

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