For Release: Aug. 29, 2018 – Jamie Dukes, Office of Communications - (405) 271-5601
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released preliminary data indicating an increase of more than 200,000 cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) reported between 2016 and 2017. Nationally, there are 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis; Oklahoma’s health officials report the same alarming increase.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) reports there were 31,779 cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis diagnosed in 2017, an increase from 29,716 reported in 2016. The most significant increase was found in the number of syphilis cases with an increase of 36.5 percent in one year. Reports indicate an increase of nearly 20 percent in the number of gonorrhea cases. Cases of chlamydia increased as well with a total of 21,752 cases.
Members of the OSDH HIV/STD service are in Washington D.C. attending the National STD Prevention Conference where the reports from the CDC were announced. Ivonna Mims, Amber Rose, Terrainia Harris and Kristen Eberly presented their work in implementing Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT) in county health departments to treat patients diagnosed with an STD.
"Implementing EPT in Oklahoma is a huge victory and we are excited about improving treatment outcomes to help reduce rates of re-infection and adverse outcomes,” said STD Nurse Consultant Ivonna Mims. “This scientifically proven method can ensure more Oklahomans have the availability of appropriate treatment for their partners."
Oklahoma joins many states in implementing the EPT program as a method of preventing re-infection of gonorrhea and chlamydia between partners. The program was implemented in the state’s 78 county health department clinics, and eight clinic sites at the OKC-County Health Department and the Tulsa Health Department. Reports indicate 99 percent of patients who received EPT had no reported re-infections within 30-90 days of the initial treatment.
Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are curable with antibiotics, yet most cases go undiagnosed and untreated — which can lead to severe health effects including infertility, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth in infants, and increased HIV risk. Prior studies suggest a range of factors may contribute to STD increases, including socioeconomic factors like poverty, stigma and discrimination; and drug use.
To reduce the spread of STDs, health officials encourage regular testing as part of a person’s regular health care routine. Many cases go untreated because they are undiagnosed. To help prevent contracting an STD, it is important to have protected sex, using a new condom for every sexual encounter every time. Reducing the number of sexual partners and avoiding the use of shared needles also is important.