BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
CLEARFIELD — Cases of sexually transmitted diseases in Davis County have seen a slight dip in the past year overall, but Davis County health officials are not ready to declare victory.
That’s particularly true with two common infections, gonorrhea and chlamydia, which have increased.
“The numbers have gone down a touch, but it’s still the number one disease in Davis County,” said Wendy Garcia, communicable disease and epidemiology division director of the Davis County Health Department.
In 2011, 56.4 percent of all diseases reported to the department were sexually transmitted diseases. In 2012, that dropped to 52.9 percent.
She believes the numbers are so high for that disease because more people are being tested and treated.
Chlamydia is discovered more often in females because, while sometimes asymptomatic, it is often detected during a woman’s annual gynecological exam, Garcia said.
What’s most concerning to health officials is the young age at which they’re seeing patients.
Between 2000 and 2012, the biggest increases in chlamydia was in the 14-26 age range.
Gonorrhea’s number rose significantly in Davis County over the past year. Like Chlamydia, gonorrhea tends to be asymptomatic
Those with STDs are often not purposely trying to spread the disease, but they’re unaware and uneducated, Garcia said
To combat that, the department’s first goal is trying to prevent STDs by educating the population as to what puts individuals at risk.
“Education is the key,” Garcia said.
Abstinance is the No. 1 prevention tool, but Garcia said that for those who don’t abstain, having safe sex by limiting sexual partners and using condoms is an alternative.
“It’s really important to prevent infections,” Garcia said.
The goal of the health department is that once a person has tested positive for an STD, to treat them and then contact their sex partners, Garcia said. The partner’s names are kept confidential, but those contacted are encouraged to get tested and treated if needed.
If symptoms do appear, they may include a discharge, burning or pain during intercourse, and in females abdominal pain and possible fever, Garcia said.
Left untreated, STDs can lead to infertility or pelvic inflammatory disease, which is an infection of the reproductive organs in women
There are multiple venues to get tested and treated, including private health providers, local health departments and Planned Parenthood.
The department’s Midtown Community Health Center at 22 S. State Street in Clearfield provides testing with no appointment and doctor visits. Hours are Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2-5 p.m.
There are no vaccines for most STDs. However, there is a vaccine for the human papillomavirus, an STD not reported to the health department, Garcia said. The vaccine is available for both men and women.
“We’re fighting an uphill battle (in fighting STDs),” Garcia said, “but it’s so important to get the message to this group at highest risk, our adolescents,” she said.