Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis cases have increased in California and nationwide in recent years, and San Luis Obispo County is no exception.
There were 1,146 new cases of chlamydia — the most common sexually transmitted disease that’s tracked — identified in the county in 2016, up from 1,083 in 2015.
Rates steadily rose each year since 2012, when 868 cases were identified, according to data from the state Department of Public Health.
Cases of gonorrhea increased in the county from 169 reported in 2015 to 230 in 2016. The number of syphilis cases reported increased from 10 in 2015 to 19 in 2016.
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Last year, 19 people in the county were diagnosed with HIV or AIDS. So far this year, there have been eight new positive test results for the diseases, according to data provided by the county Public Health Department.
County public health officials said getting tested regularly is the only way to know for sure if you have an STD, as symptoms are not always noticeable. These diseases can be prevented with the use of condoms.
While chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are treatable, they can all cause serious long-term complications — especially if they aren’t caught and treated early.
Chlamydia can damage a woman’s reproductive system if not treated, making it difficult or impossible to get pregnant later on, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
National director of STD prevention Gail Bolan said the rise of STDs is due to funding cutbacks for prevention, education and healthcare programs and an ongoing debate about sex eduction for young people.
Low-cost, confidential STD testing, treatment and education is available through the County Public Health Department at clinics in Paso Robles, Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo.
Services are by appointment in Paso Robles and Morro Bay. The SLO clinic has walk-in hours from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Mondays and 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays.