The number of gonorrhea cases in San Diego County last year was 10 percent higher than the year before, according to an annual report of sexually transmitted diseases by the county Health and Human Services Agency.
The number of diagnosed gonorrhea cases went from 2,597 in 2012 to 2,865 last year, with the bulk of the increase among men, officials said Monday. Women account for less than one-third of the infections reported in the county, according to the HHSA.
The agency also reported that primary and secondary syphilis cases increased by 4 percent, from 333 cases in 2012 to 347 cases last year, with the vast majority occurring in men.
Meanwhile, the number of chlamydia cases dropped by 4 percent, from 16,538 cases in 2012 to 16,042 in 2013.
Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD in San Diego and California, and young women between 15 and 24 years of age continue to have the highest rates of infection, according to the HHSA.
“A decline in chlamydia cases was reported for the first time in several years, and that is good news for San Diego County,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “However, this is just a one-year drop. Sexually active individuals should continue to take precautionary measures to avoid getting infected with chlamydia and other STDs, especially since gonorrhea and syphilis cases went up.”
STD prevention is part of the county’s “Live Well San Diego” initiative, which aims to improve the health and well-being of local residents.
“Young women are particularly susceptible to long-term complications of STDs since they can result in infertility and other long-term reproductive health problems,” said Dr. M. Winston Tilghman, a senior physician and STD controller for the county. “Individuals can decrease their risk of STDs by talking openly about them with their partners, using condoms, practicing mutual monogamy and getting tested on a regular basis.”
As in the rest of the state, profound racial disparities exist with regard to STDs. Blacks have the highest rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and early syphilis, according to the HHSA report.
The county has implemented a free home testing program for gonorrhea and chlamydia available to women 25 and younger. The “Don’t Think. Know.” program can be accessed online or by calling (619) 692-5669.
The county also operates four STD clinics, which offer testing and treatment for most sexual ailments on a walk-in basis. More information about STDs and testing services can be obtained online at by visiting STD San Diego, or calling (619) 293-4700.