Houston-area providers say CDC report on STDs confirms what they suspected

Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise nationwide, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Providers in the Houston area say the report did not come as a surprise at all.

“It confirmed what I had suspected,” said Dr. Lisa Halloway with Harris County Public Health.

The report found that between 2013 and 2017, gonorrhea diagnoses increased 67 percent, syphilis increased 76 percent and cases of Chlamydia were the most common with more than 1.7 million cases reported last year.

“As far as Chlamydia cases we have seen probably 20 to 25 thousand cases a year and that has steadily climbed,” added Dr. Halloway.

The City of Houston’s Health Department also reported an increase.

In the first six months of this year, there were 253 cases of syphilis compared to 168 during the same time last year. There were 14,265 cases of Chlamydia during the first half of 2018 compared to 13,566 during the same time last year. That’s almost 700 more cases. There were also 4,522 cases of gonorrhea during the first since six months this year compared to 4,296 during the same time in 2017.

“I know this primarily affects the younger adults but everyone needs to be screened,” Dr. Halloway told FOX 26.

However, providers and advocates say access to screening and treatment can be challenging.

“We’ve seen steady cuts in access to family planning programs where people could get information how to protect themselves and how to get testing,” said Rochelle Tafolla, Director of Communications with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.

The organization serves parts of southeast Texas and Louisiana and administered about 90,000 STD tests last year.

“We’ve seen about a 10 percent positive rate over the last few years for gonorrhea and Chlamydia. It’s increased slightly but that’s based on – the difference is we have more and more tests that are being administered,” Tafolla added.

She adds that is needed is more early sexual education and access to information about prevention and treatment.

“These [sexually transmitted infection] rates are something to be alarmed about, but also something that is solvable. And, not get hung up on the fact that we’re talking about a sexually transmitted infection. This a preventable infection and if we address it by giving people information and giving them access on how protect themselves, we actually can decrease those rates,” Tafolla concluded.