Data Tracker

Sacramento County sees alarming rise in STDs. What’s behind the big increase?

The number of sexually transmitted diseases reported in Sacramento County jumped significantly in 2018, and Sacramento remains among the California counties with the highest STD rates, the latest state figures show.

Doctors diagnosed about 11,650 Sacramento County residents with chlamydia last year, up nearly 20 percent from 2017 and up more than 50 percent from 2014. Sacramento had the fifth-highest chlamydia infection rate in California in 2018. Chlamydia is common and usually easy to treat but it often does not display symptoms and can damage a woman’s reproductive system if left untreated, making it hard for her to get pregnant.

Doctors diagnosed Sacramento County residents with gonorrhea about 3,840 times last year, up 15 percent from 2017 and up more than 70 percent from 2014. Sacramento had the seventh-highest gonorrhea rate in California in 2018. Untreated Gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women and cause serious health problems in their newborn babies.

Sacramento County had the 11th-highest rate of primary and secondary syphilis infections last year. Doctors made 418 primary and secondary syphilis diagnosis in 2018, up nearly 45 percent from the prior year. The number of primary and secondary syphilis infections in Sacramento County has nearly tripled since 2014. Primary syphilis is often marked by sores. Secondary syphilis is often marked by rash, swollen lymph nodes and fever. Without treatment, it can spread to the brain and cause major health problems..

In addition, 10 Sacramento babies were born with congenital syphilis last year, up from just one in 2014, state figures show.

Rates of sexually-transmitted diseases have also risen across the state.

Better access to health care, the rise of dating apps and services — which can lead to more sexual partners — and declining usage of condoms may help explain the increase in reported sexually transmitted infections, especially among young people, according to public health officials.

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Phillip Reese is a data specialist at The Sacramento Bee and teaches at Sacramento State: 916-321-1137
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