Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Rates of STDs are Rising

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are passed from one person to another through sexual activity. STDs are typically treatable, but there may not be any symptoms or only mild symptoms resulting from an infection; thus, prevention and screening for infection are important public health interventions. According to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly half of STDs occur among young people ages 15-24 years old. These infections can lead to long-term health consequences, such as infertility and an increased likelihood of acquiring HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). Beyond the impact on an individual’s health, STDs are also an economic drain on the U.S. healthcare system, costing billions annually. 1 This indicator tracks the prevalence of three common STDs: chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis (including congenital syphilis). 2

Mental Health Treatment Rises for Children and Youth.

How is San Bernardino County Doing?

Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in San Bernardino County:

  • The rate of chlamydia rose 44% in the 10 years between 2008 and 2017, increasing to 614 reported cases per 100,000 residents in 2017.
  • This is higher than both California and the United States, which have chlamydia rates of 557 and 529 cases per 100,000 residents, respectively.
  • Gonorrhea incidence more than doubled in the same 10-year time period, rising 171% to 186 reported cases per 100,000 people. In comparison, rates of gonorrhea were higher for California (192 per 100,000 people) and lower for the U.S. (172 per 100,000 people).
  • Syphilis occurs at a much lower rate but is also increasing.
  • Primary and secondary stage syphilis (the most infectious stages of the disease) increased nearly 500% in 10 years, with a rate of 11 cases per 100,000 residents reported in 2017. Rates of primary and secondary syphilis are 17 per 100,000 people for California and 9.5 per 100,000 for the United States.
  • The number of new cases of congenital syphilis ranged between zero and four each year between 2008 and 2015; there was an unusual spike in congenital syphilis in 2016 with 20 new cases reported that year.

Common STDs and Complications, if Untreated

Chlamydia, a bacterial infection, is the most commonly reported STD in the United States. Untreated chlamydia infection in women can result in pelvic inflammatory disease, which is a major cause of infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pelvic pain. Untreated chlamydia in men can cause urethral infection or swollen testicles.

Gonorrhea is the second most common STD in the U.S. and is also a bacterial infection. As with chlamydia, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease. It can also be passed from a pregnant mother to her child and can lead to blindness and pneumonia in the child.

Syphilis is a genital ulcerative disease (and also a bacterial infection). If left untreated, syphilis can cause mental illness, blindness, and death. Congenital syphilis is when the infection is passed from a pregnant mother to the unborn baby, and can lead to a low birth weight, premature birth, or stillbirth. Infants infected with congenital syphilis may develop serious health problems such as cataracts, deafness, and seizures, and can die.

Each of these STDs, if left untreated, can facilitate the transmission of HIV infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals who are infected with STDs are two- to five-times more likely than uninfected individuals to acquire HIV infection if they are exposed to the virus through sexual contact.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov/std/)

Incidence of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis per 100,000 Residents

San Bernardino County, 2008-2017
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Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov/std/)

Incidence of Chlamydia per 100,000 Residents

San Bernardino County, California and the United States, 2008-2017
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Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov/std/)

Incidence of Gonorrrhea per 100,000 Residents

San Bernardino County, California and the United States, 2008-2017
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Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov/std/)

Incidence of Syphilis per 100,000 Residents

San Bernardino County, California and the United States, 2008-2017
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Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov/std/)

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Data & Statistics (cdc.gov/std/stats) 2Syphilis is divided into stages including primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary. This indicator tracks the incidence of primary and secondary syphilis – which are the most infectious stages of the disease – as well as congenital syphilis, which is syphilis in an infant that has been passed from mother to child.