Sexually transmitted disease stats soar in SLO, Santa Barbara counties

Sep 28, 2017

New data released Tuesday from the California Department of Public Health reveals cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and infections are on the rise on the Central Coast. The number of gonorrhea cases have doubled and syphilis cases quadrupled in Santa Barbara County since 2011. 

The report says overall, STD cases in California have risen by 40 percent in five years. And Santa Barbara County specifically has one of the highest chlamydia infection rates in California.

“Well, this is not brand new news to us,” said Santa Barbara County Department of Public Health’s Susan Klein-Rothschild. “This something we’ve been monitoring closely for a number of years.”

Klein-Rothschild said in the past year, the county has been holding seminars about appropriate responses and treatment of STDs.

“Yesterday, our health officers sent out a provider alert,” Klein-Rothschild said. “That is an alert to all healthcare providers in Santa Barbara County, providing the data and giving specific guidance about what to do with their patients.”

Klein-Rothschild said it’s difficult to determine why exactly this is happening because each case is different. But she said dating and hookup apps and websites like Tinder may contribute to the rise in cases.

“It certainly is a possibility. I do know that our infectious disease physician did some follow-up with cases of syphilis in particular,” Klein-Rothschild said. “Certain places and certain kinds of behaviors that were more common.”

Since 2012, chlamydia cases rose by about 30 percent in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, while in Monterey County it was just two percent. Gonorrhea cases rose by nearly 75 percent in San Luis Obispo County, and 65 percent in Monterey County.

According to the data, in 2012 there were three reported cases of syphilis in San Luis Obispo County. In 2016, that number jumped to 27.