Alaska ranks first in STD rates, CDC report says
In an annual look at national trends for sexually transmitted diseases, Alaska is at the top of the list.
According to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control has reported extremely high rates for STDs in Alaska. The CDC says the state ranks first in the number of cases for chlamydia and second for gonorrhea.
"High STD rates are not unusual news for Alaska, but they are alarming and should serve as a reminder to Alaskans to practice safe sex and get tested," DHSS said.
While ranking below the national average, the department says there is also an increase in syphilis among women in the state. The CDC says there is a national increase in congenital syphilis, when a mother passes the infection to a fetus during pregnancy.
“Screening is an important first step and women should see a doctor if they notice a sore or rash, or if they think they've been exposed,” DHSS said.
The state’s health department also noted HIV cases in Fairbanks, but the CDC did not include HIV data in its report.
"Unfortunately, Alaska is a place where you can easily acquire a sexually transmitted disease," said STD/HIV Program Manager Susan Jones. "And on many STD reports, individuals can have more than one infection at a time. Even though some of these infections seem minor, they are not benign and can cause lifelong problems.”
According to DHSS, Alaska isn’t the only state seeing an increase in STD cases. The department says STD reports have surged for the fifth year in a row, with an all-time high in 2018. DHSS says the increase is due to a range of factors that include decreased condom use among high-risk groups and lack of access to medical care or medical coverage.
Kayla Heffner contributed to this report.
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