wasn’t that long ago that gonorrhea and syphilis cases were nearly
non-existent. However, times have changed, and the medical community
of nearly all states like Montana are concerned about the emergence
of gonorrhea-resistant antibiotics.
Health family physician Dr. Chris Baumert said the number of cases
for both diseases, along with chlamydia, have increased
significantly. He said the CDC is closely watching gonorrhea because
there is only one set of drugs that can be used to treat the disease.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that one of the
most urgent public health threats is antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea.
to the 2017 Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance report,
gonorrhea is the second most common disease in the U.S. with more
than 555,000 cases being reported. Chlamydia came in first and
syphilis ranked third.
gonorrhea cases have risen 75.2 percent since its historical low back
in 2009. According to the Montana Department of Public Health and
Human Services, there was a sharp increase in the number of gonorrhea
cases in 2014, but they started to drop in 2017. However, it appears
there are more cases of gonorrhea for 2018. According to health
officials, Montana will have over 1,000 cases in 2018 compared to
just over 860 last year.
cases, so far, were reported in Missoula County. In 2017, that number
number of chlamydia cases has slowly risen in the last five years. In
2013, the number of cases was 3,807. In 2017. The number of cases was
4,564. If the rate of transmission continues as the DPHHS predicts,
the number of chlamydia cases will reach 4,700.
Missoula County saw 381 chlamydia cases through September 2017. The number of cases from September 2017 to September 2018 increased to 398.
cases have been stagnant so far with only 37 cases in 2018 compared
to 38 for last year. In Missoula County, there were nine cases of
syphilis in 2018 compared to just six cases in 2017.
The Possible Reasons For The High STD Numbers
County Health Department Infectious Disease Specialist and registered
nurse Brad Applegate said syphilis is the disease also to watch out
for. Although he can’t explain why, Applegate said it was a nearly
non-existent disease and has skyrocketed in the last couple of years.
- He thinks it’s the result of pre-exposure prophylactic that allows people to engage in unprotected sex, have sex with more than one partner and not be diagnosed with the HIV virus. The problem is that pre-exposure prophylactic, called PrEP or Truvada, isn’t protecting people from other sexually transmitted diseases.
- He also blames technology as another reason, making it easy for strangers to hook up with other people for sex.
- Many people infected with an STD are unaware of the symptoms, perhaps because of confusion or the lack of symptoms present.
half of STDs are seen in young people between the ages of 15 to 24.
For Yellowstone County, people between the ages of 20 and 45 tend to
be infected more. For Missoula County, some individuals as young as
14, are infected with STDs.
said this means schools need to take a look at their sex education
programs and determine where changes need to be made.
Baumert said chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis can be passed vaginally, anally or orally. Many teens believe they are safe from STDs if they stay with oral sex. He said any sexual act can increase a person’s chances for these infections and increasing their chance of getting HIV.
There are currently over 50 people in both Missoula and Yellowstone Counties that have HIV.
who get chlamydia and gonorrhea may also suffer from pelvic
inflammatory disease and have long-term health complications like
infertility. Baumert said all three diseases can pass from mother to
unborn child, which means pregnant women should be tested.
September 2018 CDC report shows that there were double the amount of
cases of congenital syphilis in the U.S. from 2013 to 2017 (362
compared to 918). It’s the highest number of cases recorded in 20
the past few years, more of the Montana syphilis were in men who had
sexual intercourse with other men. However, in 2018, there were four
reported cases that involved women.
potential reason for the higher STDs numbers is the increase in drug
use. People who share needles often increase the number of HIV cases.
to Baumert, many communities in the U.S. offer non-profit
needle-sharing programs so people who use drugs can protect
themselves from getting infected.
said STD testing is easy. A blood test is necessary for syphilis
while chlamydia and gonorrhea need a swab of the infected area.
CDC recommends sexually active individuals to get tested every three
to six months for STDs.
Are STDs Treated?
treatment for each disease is pretty easy. Early-stage syphilis is a
single shot of penicillin. For chlamydia and gonorrhea, a simple
treatment of both a pill or injection of an antibiotic tends to work.
a person is diagnosed with an STD, it gets reported to the county
health department that then verifies the person’s recent sexual
partners. It’s not uncommon for people to hang up when they hear
the news. And, it’s also difficult to find these individuals.
People don’t want others snooping into their private lives, but the
agency is only doing it to protect the public and the infected
individual from any long-term consequences.
agency will use social media to track down a person’s partners and
inform them to take immediate action. Some people get angry while
others are grateful to learn the information.
Ways To Avoid Getting An STD
are three ways in which a person can protect themselves from getting
- Not having sex; staying abstinent.
- Having sex with just one partner; stay in a monogamous relationship. Get tested together and show one another the results if they want to have sex without protection.
condoms to prevent STD transmission.