Rates of sexually transmitted diseases continue to climb in California, according to a report by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
The CDPH released their 2016 STD Annual Report this week and found STD cases are at an all-time high in California. Over a quarter million STD cases were reported last year. That's a 40 percent increase compared to five years ago.
The report said, California ranked first in the nation- based on data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)- for the total number of cases for Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and congenital syphilis. It's important to note, California is also the most populated state in the U.S. which may play into one of the reasons behind the high rates.
In the report, health officials said they are especially concerned about the 207 cases of congenital syphilis reported.
"If not caught early, syphilis during pregnancy can result in congenital syphilis leading to stillbirth or permanent, lifelong disabilities." said a CDPH press statement on the report. "Syphilis can also cause permanent loss of vision, hearing and other neurologic problems in adults. If left untreated, STDs can increase the risk of HIV infection and lead to lifelong reproductive health problems."
The number of infants born with congenital syphilis increased for the fourth consecutive year, and by 43 percent over 2015 cases.
Chlamydia is still the most reported STD in the state since mandated reported began in 1990, according to the report. While reported STDs increased across all California, San Francisco saw the sharpest increase in Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis over any other region.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea rates are highest among people under age 30. Rates of Chlamydia are highest among young women, but males account for the majority of syphilis and gonorrhea cases.
Men who have sex with men account for 63 percent of gonorrhea cases in the state. Health experts are not clear on the reasons behind this high rate, but it may be due to higher transmission or increased screenings.
Sacramento County is among the 14 counties where Chlamydia rates were higher than the overall state rate and also one of the nine counties where gonorrhea is higher than the state rate.
Heath officials recommend the use of condoms and regular screenings as preventative care against Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. These three STDs can be treated and cured with antibiotics, so regular testing is important, even if there are no symptoms.