The prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases continues to increase in Utah, with increases being seen in chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.
In 2012, the Davis County Health Department saw a 17 percent increase in chlamydia, a 122 percent increase in gonorrhea and a 91 percent increase in syphilis.
"We have also seen more gonorrhea infections in the heterosexual population," said Wendy Garcia, Davis County Health Department communicable disease and epidemiology division director. "So far, in 2013, we are again seeing a higher-than-expected case count of gonorrhea as compared to 2012."
Amy Carter, Weber-Morgan Health Department communicable disease and epidemiology nurse, said Weber and Morgan counties have a higher rate of chlamydia than statewide, with an estimated 318 per 100,000 people compared to 251 per 100,000 across the state.
"In 2012, 788 chlamydia cases were reported to and investigated by the Weber-Morgan Health Department," Carter said. "We have seen a steady incline in chlamydia cases over the last few years. It's difficult to determine if this increase is due to actual new cases or to increased awareness and screening by medical providers."
In 2012, gonorrhea was the 10th-most-frequently reported disease for the Weber-Morgan Health Department, with 42 cases reported and investigated.
In 2011, there were seven cases per 100,000 people versus 9.8 per 100,000 statewide.
The National Centers for Disease Control has released estimates on sexually transmitted diseases that show there are about 20 million new infections in the United States each year, costing nearly $16 billion in direct medical costs to the health care system.
An in-depth look at the economic and human burden of STDs in the country, provided by the CDC this month, also shows the nation's youth shouldering a substantial burden of the infections. Half of all new STDs occur among youths ages 15 to 24, according to the estimates.
The eighth-most-common STDs are chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus type 2, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), human papillomavirus, syphilis and trichomoniasis. To date, more than 110 million people have some type of STD.
Although not life-threatening, chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to serious health problems, such as infertility, pelvic pain and ectopic pregnancy. Those infected with HPV are at risk for developing cervical, genital and oral cancers.
Screening, testing and treatment are very important for those who are sexually active. Carter also said abstinence, being faithful, and correct, consistent condom use will also reduce your risk.
"The best way to prevent STDs is to abstain from sex," she said. "The next best way to prevent STDs is to abstain from having sex until both you and your partner are tested for STDs and both know you are negative. Then you only have sexual relations with each other."
Carter also said contraceptive methods, such as birth control pills, patches or shots, intrauterine devices and emergency contraceptive methods, do not provide protection against STDs.
"It only takes one sexual exposure to become infected with an STD," she said.
Testing is available at both county health departments as well as doctors' offices.
STD FACTS AND FIGURES
* Chlamydia was the most frequently reported communicable disease in Utah in 2011 with 7,080 cases.
* Gonorrhea was eighth with 277 cases.
* Two-thirds of the chlamydia cases reported in Utah in 2011 were among people between ages 15 and 24.
* The highest rates of infection were reported among females, ages 20-24 years (1,617.7 cases per 100,000 population) and 15-19 years (1,468.3 cases per 100,000 population).
* The highest rate of infection reported in males in Utah in 2011 was among men 20-24 years (684.0 cases per 100,000 population)
Source: Utah Department of Health