Palo Alto

Sexually Transmitted Diseases Reach Highest in Decade in San Mateo County

Local health services believe more transmission, less condom use and more health screenings are likely factors in its newest report.

There were 542 cases of gonorrhea in San Mateo County last year, compared to just 362 in the prior year, according to a health report released Thursday.

The 50-percent increase in gonorrhea cases resulted in the highest reported period in the report’s 15-year summary. And this unfortunate spike, which includes increased reports of chlamydia and syphilis, on the Peninsula mirrors an unprecedented STD spike across the country.

Rebecca Greenway

Local health services believe more transmission, less condom use and more health screenings are factors in the most recent spike.

Aside from a weekly clinic, the county has a van that will come to treat someone on site when needed and is working with high schools on new curriculum, according to Dr. Vivian Levy, the STD Control Officer for San Mateo County.

San Mateo County’s high numbers are part of national phenomenon. In 2015, the latest data available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that STD’s reached an unprecedented high in the United States.

The CDC cited other reasons for the unfortunate spike: Some gonorrhea medicines are now proving to be ineffective, and budget cuts have closed several STD clinics across the country. “Fewer clinics mean reduced access to STD testing and treatment,” the CDC said.

San Mateo County residents between the ages of 20 and 24 had the highest rate of gonorrhea with the highest rates reported in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto as well as some areas of Daly City, Pacifica, Redwood City, San Mateo and South San Francisco.

People in their 20s, men who have sex with men and African Americans had the highest proportion of STDs, with syphilis cases almost entirely in men.

Within the last year, syphilis total reports increased 23 percent with the proportion of women affected doubling from 3 to 7 percent.

"There's always room for better and newer, different condoms, which would be helpful, new vaccines," Levy said. "I think we welcome partnerships and partnerships with innovators."

San Mateo County Health Services's walk-in clinics are every Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m., to test for HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea at the Edison STD Clinic, 222 W. 39th Ave. San Mateo, CA 94403. The tests cost $25. The mobile testing van can also be reached by calling (650) 619-9125.

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