STD Rates Climb in San Diego


Rates of sexually transmitted diseases continued to increase in 2012, and San Diego is outpacing the nation overall, a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals.

San Diego County News Center

Key national findings in the CDC’s Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2012 report include:

  • The number of chlamydia cases – more than 1.4 million – is the highest of any disease ever reported to CDC though rates are relatively stable (0.7 percent increase overall with 3.2 percent increase in men)
  • Gonorrhea rates increased 4.1 percent in 2012 compared to 2011 (with an 8.3 percent increase in men)
  • Syphilis rates increased 11 percent in 2012, and 75 percent of syphilis cases were reported among men who have sex with men (MSM)
  • High rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among young people and MSM

“Sexually transmitted diseases are a silent, national epidemic,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Doctors need to talk to their patients, and patients need to be open with their medical providers and disclose their sexual history.”

The percentage increase in the rates of STDs reported locally was higher than that reported at the national level.

Chlamydia rates in San Diego increased from 496 cases per 100,000 residents in 2011 to 526 cases per 100,000 residents in 2012, a 6 percent increase. Forty-five percent of the 16,545 local chlamydia cases were reported in women 24 years of age and under. Rates in men increased 9 percent from 2011 to 2012.

Gonorrhea rates in San Diego increased 19 percent, from 69.6 cases per 100,000 residents in 2011 to 82.7 cases per 100,000 residents in 2012. Unlike chlamydia, the highest rates of gonorrhea were reported among men. Of the 2,599 reported cases last year, 767 (30 percent) were reported in males 20-29 years old and 830 (32 percent) were in males 30 years old and over. Women of all ages accounted for less than a third of total cases (829).

The rate of primary and secondary syphilis increased locally 12 percent from 2011 to 2012 (from 9.3 to 10.4 cases per 100,000 residents). Gay, bisexual and other MSM constituted the majority (85 percent) of the 328 primary and secondary syphilis cases in San Diego in 2012. Another important statistic to consider is the fact that 61 percent of MSM syphilis cases also had HIV infection, a 22 percent increase from 2011 to 2012.

“Sexually active individuals can decrease their risk of STDs through open discussion with their partners about STDs, condom use, and mutual monogamy,” said M. Winston Tilghman, M.D, senior physician and STD controller for the County Health and Human Services Agency.

Tilghman added the statistics for last year are not yet ready but preliminary figures show no significant changes in 2013.

Last year, the County implemented a free home testing program for gonorrhea and chlamydia available to women 25 years old and younger that can be accessed at or by calling (619) 692-5669 (KNOW).

The County also operates four STD clinics, which offer testing and treatment for most STDs on a walk-in basis. The service is part of the County’s Live Well San Diego initiative which aims to improve the health and well-being of all San Diegans. For more information about STDs, call (619) 293-4700.

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