Number of local STD cases up significantly

Number of local STD cases up significantly

CHAMPAIGN — So much for safe sex.

In Champaign County alone last year, there were more than 2,200 cases of three different sexually-transmitted diseases — chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis — according to new data posted by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District.

That's up by more than 400 cases over the previous year, with the most prevalent number of cases both years being chlamydia, followed by gonorrhea.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are both common infections in sexually active women and men. Both can go undetected for a time because they don't always produce symptoms.

At least some of Champaign County's increase in STDs is likely a factor of more testing rather than more carelessness, according to the public health district's Administrator Julie Pryde.

As more people have gained access to health care and preventive health services, they're undergoing more testing for STDs, she said. "And they're testing routinely, which is what we've always wanted," Pryde said.

Women coming in for pregnancy tests at the health district are also being routinely tested these days for chlamydia and gonorrhea, she said.

"That's important, because women often don't have symptoms," Pryde said.

The increase in STDs locally follows a national trend in which there were 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis diagnosed in the U.S. in 2017, surpassing the previous record set in 2016 by more than 200,000 new cases.

Last year also marked the fourth year in a row in which the number of STDs in the U.S. rose sharply, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vermilion County saw a decline in chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis cases last year, according to the county health department's administrator, Doug Toole. There were 531 cases of the three STDs combined in 2017, compared to 686 the previous year.

Vermilion County gonorrhea cases have been on the way back up, though. Toole said there have already been 165 cases of that one disease in the county this year, compared to 107 cases for all of last year.

Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are all treatable with antibiotics, but they can have long-term consequences when they go undetected and untreated.

Chlamydia can rob a woman of her fertility, because the infection can spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease and possibly permanent damage to the reproductive system. Untreated gonorrhea can damage fertility in both men and women, and untreated syphilis can spread to the brain, nervous system or eyes.

Public health experts have long promoted two ways to help avoid getting sexually transmitted diseases — using condoms or confining sex to one partner who's been tested.

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