Rising rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in Washington are prompting health officials at the Washington State Department of Health to urge sexually active people to get tested and treated for STDs. The agency released 2017 data that show record rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.
Data show sexually transmitted disease rates are higher among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. Health officials urge these individuals to talk to their medical provider about testing for syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and HIV at least once a year.
Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD; the rates are highest in 20- to 24-year-old women.
Untreated STDs can cause serious problems. Pregnant women experience some of the worst outcomes from untreated STDs. Congenital syphilis is a growing problem in Washington. From 2016 to 2017, there were as many cases of congenital syphilis as in the previous 10 years combined.
Consistent and correct condom use is still the best way to prevent STDs. The Department of Health is working with local public health agencies and community partners to enhance their capacity to investigate and reduce the spread of STDs. Early detection and treatment can interrupt the steady climb of STD rates.
National STD data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can be found in the 2016 Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report.
In Washington, federal and state funds provide $3.2 million per year for STD prevention, monitoring and control from 2017 to 2019.