Data Shows Historical Disparities in STD Rates

Since at least 2009, disparities have existed in rates of sexually transmitted diseases across California.

African American young people ages 10 to 19 had the highest rates of chlamydia between 2009 and 2015, according to data from the California Department of Public Health posted by Kidsdata.*

In 2015, chlamydia rates among African American youths were more than four times higher than rates among young people from three other racial or ethnic groups in California. That year there were almost 3,095 cases of chlamydia for every 100,000 African American youths ages 10-19, compared with fewer than 650 cases among Latino, white, and Asian or Pacific Islander youth.

Among all age groups and races, rates of bacterial sexually transmitted diseases increased in California in 2016, for the third year straight, reporter Fran Kritz wrote in an Oct. 30 story.

Over a quarter million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were reported in the state in 2016, a 40 percent increase compared to five years ago, including 198,503 cases of chlamydia, 64,677 of gonorrhea, and 11,222 of early syphilis.

Statewide, the highest rates of STDs were found among young people, African-Americans, and gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, Kritz reported. But in Los Angeles, the state’s most populous city, the rates were highest both among African Americans and Latinos.

In the last decade, Chlamydia rates among African American youths ages 10-19 peaked in 2010 and declined in the years following. Rates among youths in the other racial and ethnic groups remained roughly constant between 2009 and 2015.

Some regions of California reported higher Chlamydia rates among several racial or ethnic groups in 2015. Parts of the Central Valley, such as Fresno and Kern counties, as well as the Bay Area and Sacramento region reported higher rates. Further north, Humboldt, Shasta and Butte counties also reported a high number of cases.

Disparities in rates of sexually transmitted infections are due to “a complex web of social issues,” the California Department of Public Health said in the Oct. 30 article. “Poverty, stigma, and discomfort talking openly about sexual health play an important role for many vulnerable populations [and] closures of many public STD clinics around the state within the past 10 years disproportionately affected low income and minority clients.”

*Kidsdata and California Health Report are both funded by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health.

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