Syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia are among the sexually transmitted diseases that have substantially spread throughout the Orange County population.
The most recent numbers show a 412 percent increase in syphilis cases from 2011 to 2016, a 204 percent increase in gonorrhea, and a 59 percent increase in chlamydia, Dr. Christopher Ried, medical director of STD/HIV for the county Health Care Agency, told the Orange County Register.
The reasons are complex, but include medical and social factors ranging from a lack of adequate screening to decreased fear of curable sexually transmitted diseases, according to the newspaper Wednesday.
“No one really knows the definitive cause of all this,” Ried said. “No one can pin it on one or two things.”
In neighboring counties, STD cases have likewise jumped significantly, although not with percentage increases as dramatic as in Orange County, which has lower per capita rates of infection, the Register reported.
Last year’s data is not yet available, but for Los Angeles County, which has some of the higher rates in the state, reported cases of gonorrhea were up 75 percent from 2011 to 2015, the Register reported. Syphilis jumped by 80 percent and chlamydia increased by 14 percent, according California Department of Public Health figures cited by the newspaper.
In fact, public health officials throughout Southern California are grappling with alarming increases in syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia — part of a national epidemic.
In 2015, total combined cases of the three sexually transmitted diseases reached an all-time high, according to a late 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report noted that gonorrhea rates were at historic lows and syphilis was close to elimination earlier in the 2000s but now the STDs pose “a substantial health challenge.”
—City News Service