The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported today as part of (sexually transmitted diseases) STD Awareness Month that the state has seen increases in the number of chlamydia and syphilis cases in 2014 from the previous year, while gonorrhea cases decreased.

Image/National Atlas
Image/National Atlas

There were more than 66,500 chlamydia cases in 2014, up from 63,797 in 2013 and the syphilis case was 1682 in 2014, compared to 1607 the previous year.  Gonorrhea numbers dropped to 15971 in 2014 from 16464 in 2013.

“Any increase in STDs, especially in young people, is concerning,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. “While chlamydia and gonorrhea infections may not cause any symptoms, undiagnosed infections could lead to lifelong consequences, especially in women, such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.”

Similar to the national data, half of the STDs cases in Illinois are in people under 25 years of age. Young people ages 15-24, gay, bisexual, men who have sex with men, and some minority groups have a higher risk of becoming infected with an STD. Behavioral factors, such as not using condoms, contribute to the increased risk in these groups. In addition, difficulty accessing quality health care also contributes to the higher STD burden among these groups.

STDs are preventable. Effective strategies for reducing STD risk include:

  • Abstinence – The most reliable way to avoid infection is to not have sex (anal, vaginal or oral).
  • Reduce the number of sexual partners – Reducing your number of partners can decrease your risk for STDs.
  • Use condoms – Correct and consistent use of the male latex condom is highly effective in reducing STD transmission. Use a condom every time you have anal, vaginal, or oral sex.
  • Mutual monogamy – Mutual monogamy means that you agree to be sexually active with only one person, who has agreed to be sexually active only with you.
  • Vaccination – Vaccines are safe, effective, and recommended ways to prevent hepatitis B and HPV.