AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) launched its latest national outdoor advertising and awareness campaign with new billboards raising an alarm and offering a 'Gonorrhea Alert' about drug-resistant strains of the sexually transmitted disease-including a case of what has been referred to as 'super gonorrhea' reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by physicians in the United Kingdom earlier this year.
The state recorded the highest number of chlamydia cases since reporting started in 1990, the agency said. The state health agency reminds Californians that chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy and chronic pelvic pain if they go untreated.
State officials are particularly concerned by a spike in stillbirths due to congenital syphilis. And result in stillbirths it does: in 2017, there were 30 syphilis-related stillbirths in California, the most since 1995.
Experts say syphilis can also cause permanent loss of vision, hearing and other neurologic problems.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea rates among African-Americans were almost five times higher than caucasians, CDPH found. African-Americans reported more than twice the rate for early syphilis than caucasians.
"For California to have a steady increase in congenital syphilis is shameful", Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine at University of California, Los Angeles, told the Associated Press. The Pew Research Center likewise revealed in a 2016 report that 12 percent of American adults have used an online dating site. "Most people infected with an STD do not know it". That could be a lingering effect of the 2008 financial crisis, when the state budget slashed public health funding.
Sexually transmitted diseases can cause serious health problems.
"STDs are preventable by consistently using condoms, and many STDs can be cured with antibiotics", said Karen Smith, CDPH director and state public health officer.
Klausner said that sexual health - and money for education about sexual health - isn't something people like to talk about. CDPH is working with the California Department of Education and community groups to implement the newly enacted California Healthy Youth Act, which mandates comprehensive STD/HIV prevention education in schools.
Officials are also increasing efforts to follow up on cases, especially those involving pregnant women with syphilis, she said.
The diagnosis rate for chlamydia was 552.1 cases per 100,000 Californians, compared to 497.3 per 100,000 nationwide.
Consistent and correct condom use is still the best way to prevent STDs.