According to the most recent information from the government health statistics, California has seen an increase in all bacterial infections including chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. The highest rates were found among young people, African-Americans, and men who have sex with men.
Chlamydia is the most commonly reported disease with highest levels reported since reporting was mandated in 1990.
- 12% increase in males.
- 6% increase in females.
Gonorrhea cases and rates have increased in all regions of the state with a 20% rate increase in the past three years.
- Males’ rates increased 22%.
- Female rates increased 15%.
- Rates were highest among those under the age of 30.
- Racial disparities persisted with African-Americans infected five times more frequently than Caucasians.
Early syphilis rates have increased 29%. Of those, 63% of reported cases were among the MSM (men having sex with men) population and racial disparities were seen here as well.
California has always been a leader in the fight against AIDS. Current HIV infection rates for the state show:
- Number of people living with diagnosed HIV : 119,845
- Rate of people living with diagnosed HIV per 100,000 people: 376
- 88% of people living with diagnosed HIV were men and 12% were women.
- 17% of people living with diagnosed HIV in 2013 were black, 34% Hispanic/Latino, and 42% white.
- Number of new HIV diagnoses: 5,533
- Rate of new HIV diagnoses per 100,000 people: 17
- Number of deaths of people with diagnosed HIV in 2013: 1,635
- Rate of deaths of people with diagnosed HIV per 100,000 people: 5
State schools implemented a new comprehensive sexual health education and HIV/AIDS prevention education beginning in January 2016. Educators across the state were provided:
- teacher and administrator support materials
- parent notification education materials
- suggested adaptations for special populations
- pre-posttest for assessment of student knowledge
- optional instruction strategies for high-risk youth
- specific questions and answers related to STDs
The evidence-based sexual health programming includes teen pregnancy prevention curriculum for grades 7 to 12 and the California Healthy Youth Act and Sexual Harassment and Violence Instruction. Both curricula are designed to discuss preventing sexually transmitted diseases replacing the abstinence-before-marriage based curriculum that has been used in the past and is still in use in many states.
Since California has always been a strong influencer in the sexual health revolution, education and outreach are prioritized by our government. Ongoing attention to education, early diagnosis, treatment and follow-up are all part of the state health plan. This includes specific attention to at risk populations like those living in poverty, those with language barriers, addicted populations, transgender and incarcerated populations.
Demographics play a key role in the racial disparities around STD rates in California. Root causes like racism, poverty, education policies and laws contribute to the rising STD rates. State census data shows the following trends.
- When you look at the racial makeup of California we have 42% white, 37% Hispanic, 6% African-American, and 12% Asian. Compare this to stats for Aids, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis and we see a disproportionate level of infection in the African-American population.
- Gonorrhea affects 1 in 16 Californians yet the African-American rate is 1 in 3.
- Similarly where 1 of 3 Californians are, Latino half of the cases of chlamydia were in the Latino population.
We began reporting of AIDS cases began in March 1983. HIV reporting began in April 2006. Statistics are showing that currently the greatest number of people living with HIV is in the 30 to 39-year-old age range. The highest population is men who have sex with men followed by heterosexual and injection drug users. The racial proportion is highest in the white population followed by the Hispanic population and then the black population.
The CDC says with most STD cases going undiagnosed and untreated, people are at “risk for severe and often irreversible health consequences,” including infertility, chronic pain and increased transmission of HIV. Treating STDs costs the state roughly $16 billion annually.
The medical director for Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties, said each year the group performs more than 180,000 exams and 170,000 STD tests. In Los Angeles, LA Condom distributes more than 2 million free condoms each year at 500 locations ranging from tattoo parlors to gyms to restaurants.
It’s clear that despite challenges presented by President Trump’s changes to Planned Parenthood funding and Obama-care, Californians continue to lead the nation in their quest for sexual health for all.
Currently, testing can happen:
- same day
- privately by appointment
- entirely anonymously with no ID required
- home swab kits mailed in to the lab
Sexual health for Cali means all citizens are entitled to have education, testing, diagnosis and treatment despite their financial and racial background. Check the California Department of Health or CDC websites to find and access facilities in your neighborhood. Together, we can take control of our sexual health, keeping our state at of the bottom of the list for new infections and maintaining our reputation of a healthy place to live.