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Gonorrhea Rates in Utah Jump Nearly 400 Percent

Utah Department of Health

The Utah Department of Health released a report recently that shows rates of gonorrhea in the state have jumped significantly over the past four years. 

In 2011, Utah had about 10 cases of gonorrhea for every 100,000 people. Last year, that number had grown to 48, and the national average for the sexually transmitted infection in 2013 was about 106. Joel Hartsell is an STD epidemiologist for the Utah Department of Health. He says while Utah’s gonorrhea rates are still lower than the national average, the consistent rise in cases is alarming.

“Historically, this has been a male-dominated infection and a men who have sex with men dominated infection,” says Hartsell.

But Hartsell says the rates among women who have used drugs or been incarcerated are rising fast. From 2011 to 2013, the number of gonorrhea cases among women increased by 717%. Hartsell says this spike in female infections could be because many women don’t show symptoms of the disease for months.

“But all along, this infection can still spread. This infection is still damaging. One thing that untreated gonorrhea can cause is pelvic inflammatory disease, which is the number one preventable cause of infertility,” he says.

Hartsell says most insurance providers will cover STD screenings, and many community health centers can provide testing for a small fee. 

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