Wyoming health officials reported Thursday that the state’s gonorrhea rates have increased dramatically in recent years.
There were 415 gonorrhea cases reported across the state in 2017, which represents a 50 percent increase over 2016. “When we look back over the past five years, our gonorrhea case count has gone up a startling 529 percent,” said Courtney Smith, Communicable Disease Surveillance Program manager with the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).
Smith said Niobrara, Fremont and Laramie counties saw the highest gonorrhea rates in 2017.
“Based on what people tell us during follow up interviews, we believe we are seeing increased gonorrhea because more people are having anonymous sex and more people are having multiple sex partners, while not enough people are using condoms,” Smith said.
Smith said one way for people to take charge of their personal health is to consider screening for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Screening is especially important for:
- Those who have been with a new partner in the past 60 days
- Those who have been with multiple partners in the past 60 days
- Pregnant women
- Sexually active males and females under the age of 25
- Those who have STD symptoms such as discharge, burning, or itching at the affected site
- HIV-positive people
- Those who have had sexual contact with someone who has an STD
- Men who have sex with men
- Current or past residents of detention or corrections facilities
Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics but can cause complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility if not treated. “The only way to know for sure if you have gonorrhea is to be tested,” she said.
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Smith said rates for other STDs such as chlamydia continue to be a concern but have not grown as much as for gonorrhea.
Abstaining from sex, reducing the number of sex partners, and consistently and correctly using condoms are all effective prevention strategies. WDH Communicable Disease Unit efforts such condom dispenser activities and a condom mailer option help make condoms available for those who can’t afford them or can’t get to places where condoms are typically offered.