Sexually transmitted disease rates a cause for concern in La.

Published 3:01 pm Monday, June 3, 2024

Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise across the nation — and in Louisiana. The state ranks No. 1 for chlamydia, No. 3 for gonorrhea and No. 9 for syphilis infections, according to the latest data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control.

More people are at risk than ever; however, these three sexually transmitted diseases are preventable and curable, according to Dr. Lacey Cavenaugh, Southwest Louisiana Region 5 Office of Public Health. Heeding recommended screenings and open, honest communication with health professionals is key to preventing spread.

The Human Papillomavirus, which doesn’t figure in the national or state STD ranking, can result in throat, cervical and other cancers, and is preventable with an “underutilized vaccine,” Cavenaugh said.

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“Physicians here know about STIs and are able to treat these infections without stigma and judgment in a way that makes the patient feel comfortable talking about these sensitive issues,” Cavenaugh said.

A conversation with a health professional about the Human Papillomavirus could be a first step in receiving a life-saving treatment.

“Louisiana has one of the highest cervical cancer death rates in the country,” she noted.

The AP reported earlier this year that the U.S. has not seen syphilis numbers as high since the 1950s. While it continues to have a disproportionate impact on gay and bisexual men, syphilis is expanding in heterosexual men and women, CDC officials said.

Cavenaugh said the increase in syphilis might be a result from increased drug use. Syphilis is spread blood to blood, and drug use can result in risky sexual behavior.

About 36,200 cases of chlamydia were reported in the U.S.  in 2022, according to the CDC. That’s a 788.6 rate per 100,000 of the population.

Allen Parish recorded 73 cases of chlamydia, Beauregard had 127, Calcasieu had 1,249, Cameron had 20 and Jefferson Davis had 159.

Gonorrhea cases in Allen Parish were 33. Beauregard had 24, Calcasieu, 375, Cameron, one, and Jeff Davis, 48.

Allen Parish reported three cases, Beauregard, eight; Calcasieu, 45; Cameron, none; and Jeff Davis, two of primary and secondary and early non-primary, non secondary syphilis.

Stacker, a data-driven digital news service, listed the 50 parishes with the highest STD rates in Louisiana. Calcasieu Parish was 48th with 532.4 cases per 100,000 people and Vernon Parish was listed 35th with 647.6 cases per 100,000 people.

Screening recommendations for chlamydia and gonorrhea is annually for all sexually active women and sexually active gay and bisexual men.

The CDC recommends syphilis screening for pregnant women, sexually active men, people with HIV who are sexually active (annually) and other people at increased risk.

An estimated one in five Americans have an STD. At the highest risk is adolescents 15 to 24 years old, men who have sex with men, drug abusers who are three times more likely, and other high-risk sexual behavior.

Men and women can seek confidential talk and testing at their primary care physician. Private insurance and medicaid can generally be charged for a portion of the visit(s) and test(s). To find out details of coverage, contact the insurance provider.

Health units throughout Region 5 are available to assist with reproductive health services, including sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment. In Oberlin, call 337-639-4186; Oakdale, 318-335-1147; DeRidder, 337-463-4486; Lake Charles, 337-478-6020; Sulphur, 337-527-6361; Cameron, 337-475-3237 and Jennings, 337-824-2193.