A new report from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control once again ranks Alaska first among all states in per capita number of cases for the sexually transmitted diseases chlamydia and second for gonorrhea.
Alaska’s rankings in those STDs in the 2018 STD Surveillance Report is unchanged from that of the previous year.
High STD rates are not unusual news for Alaska, buy they are alarming and should serve as a reminder to residents to practice safe sex and get tested, said Susan Jones, STD/HIV program manager for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
Alaska has consistently ranked among the highest per capita among states or chlamydia since tracking began in 1996. Rates of gonococcal infection – more commonly called gonorrhea – are consistently higher than the national average and Alaska has been experiencing a gonorrhea outbreak since October 2017.
In March of 2018, the state Division of Public Health noted a syphilis outbreak. Although ranked below the national average, syphilis rates in Alaska have increased considerably. The CDC report highlighted a national increase in congenital syphilis, which occurs when the infection is passed from a mother to a fetus. In Alaska there is an increase in syphilis among women, state health officials said. They urged women experiencing a sore or rash, or who otherwise think they may have been exposed to syphilis to seek medical help.
Alaska also has recently experienced a cluster of HIV cases in Fairbanks, state officials said HIV is not covered in this CDC report.
“Unfortunately, Alaska is a place where you can easily acquire a sexually transmitted disease,” Jones said. “And on many STD reports, individuals can have more than one infection at a time.”