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Social Media Linked To Surge In Sexually Transmitted Diseases In California

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The California Department of Public Health revealed in a report released on Monday a dramatic increase in sexually transmitted diseases in the Golden State.

The state recorded more than 300,000 cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and early syphilis in 2017, marking a 45 percent increase from the numbers five years ago.

Factors That Contribute To Surge In STDs

Several factors contribute to increases in infection rates. Decreased condom use, fewer STD clinics, and lack of education may have resulted in increased STD cases.

James Watt, chief of the division of communicable disease control for the Department of Health, however, pointed at social media citing its significant role in helping people find anonymous sex partners.

Internet's Role In Spreading Sexually Transmitted Infections

Although the internet has helped some people find their significant others, it also played a role in increases in sexually transmitted infections.

"It makes it easier for people to meet people they don't already know to have sex," Watt said. "The internet allows for a broadening of sexual networks, and the broader that gets the more opportunity you have for sexually transmitted diseases to spread."

A 2016 study suggested that online dating sites help spread HIV. The Pew Research Center likewise revealed in a 2016 report that 12 percent of American adults have used an online dating site.

STDs In California

Officials revealed that there were 30 stillbirths linked to congenital syphilis in 2017, the highest reported since 1995.

The report showed there were 218,710 cases of chlamydia and 75,450 cases of gonorrhea last year.

"Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the most commonly reported sexually transmitted bacterial infections in California." the report reads.

Gonorrhea and chlamydia rates were highest among those below 30 years old. Chlamydia was highest among young women while syphilis and gonorrhea mostly affected men.

Dangers Of STDs

Sexually transmitted diseases can cause serious health problems. If left untreated, gonorrhea and chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancy. Syphilis may also cause neurological problems, as well as permanent loss of vision and hearing.

Many STDs can be cured by antibiotics but prevention is still best.

CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Karen Smith said that STDs can be prevented by consistent use of condoms. She also cited the importance of regular testing and treatment for people who are sexually active, even for those who do not have symptoms. Many people with STD do not know they have it.

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