Alaska again at the top of sexually transmitted disease rates

Poster provided by the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Division of Public Health Section of Epidemiology.
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) released a report outlining nationwide rates of sexually transmitted diseases across the country, and Alaska's rates remained at the top of the list.

Alaska ranked highest per capita among states for chlamydia - something it has done since tracking began in 1996 - and second for gonorrhea. CDC says that Alaska has been experiencing a gonorrhea outbreak since October of 2017.

According to CDC numbers, there were and 6,159 cases of chlamydia and 2,247 cases of gonorrhea in Alaska in 2018.

"High STD rates are not unusual news for Alaska," reads a release from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, "but they are alarming and should serve as a reminder to Alaskans to practice safe sex and get tested."

Nationwide, STD rates have continued to grow for the fifth consecutive year, and 2018 represented an all-time high. According to the CDC, this is a result of decreased condom use among high-risk groups; lack of access or coverage for medical care; decreases in local STD and partner notification services; the asymptomatic nature of some of these infections; and stigma and discrimination.

Leading the rise in nationwide increases, the U.S. saw a 40% rise in newborns born with congenital syphilis since last year, about a 14% increase overall. Alaska ranked about in the middle of states for primary, secondary and congenital syphilis, but the rate has approximately doubled over the 2013-2017 average.

Nationwide rate changes (Graphic from CDC)

Gonorrhea and chlamydia, the two other most common STDs, also increased by 5 and 3% respectively.

The CDC writes that "urgent action from all types of stakeholders is needed to help control the increases in STDs," and says that it is working to develop a federal action plan to stop the rise in rates.

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