Arizona’s health officials are tracking more cases of sexually transmitted diseases, in part because a federal grant.
Through November of 2012, 28,170 cases of chlamydia had been identified in the state. That’s higher than the same time in 2011, when there were 26,831 cases found. Both are above the five-year median of 23,970 cases.
One reason is because of the Infertility Prevention Project – part of a grant from the Centers for Disease Control to educate and test for sexually transmitted diseases.
The state is in its last year of the five-year grant, said Carla Chee, office chief for the office of disease integration services in the state Department of Health Services. Family clinics and community health centers nationwide are using the funding to do testing, especially testing for chlamydia on women 25 years and younger, she said.
Chlamydia is the most commonly reported sexually transmitted disease in the United States. The CDC recommends all sexually active women 25 and younger be tested each year. Untreated, chlamydia can lead to infertility.
The state is also targeting gonorrhea testing on the same population, Chee said.
As of last week, 5,316 cases of gonorrhea had been found in 2012. In 2011 at this time, there were 4,101 cases found. The five-year median is 3,210.
“The majority of these cases are asymptomatic. They can be out there spreading the diseases unknowingly. They’re not malicious. They just have no clue,” said Roxanne Ereth, manager of the state’s sexually transmitted disease program.
By finding the disease early, the state can help stop the spread of disease, Ereth said.
“A small reason for the increase is testing. Providers are becoming more knowledgeable,” Ereth said, noting a push by the counties for physicians to test more for sexually transmitted diseases.
People can infect others with chlamydia two to six weeks after they catch the disease. Gonorrhea can be spread as soon as two days after infection.
Treatment of gonorrhea has become more difficult because the disease is becoming resistant to previous treatments, according to the CDC. Now, the CDC recommends ceftriaxone along with a second antibiotic as treatment.
More than 700,000 people are infected in the United States each year with gonorrhea, according to the CDC. About half of those infections are reported.