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STDs increase about 13 percent statewide

Marylee Williams

Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin saw a jump of about 13 percent in reported chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis cases in 2016, according to an annual report from the state Department of Health Services. Chlamydia was especially prominent, making up more than three-quarters of the roughly 33,000 cases reported last year.

  • Chlamydia cases: 26,432
  • Gonorrhea cases: 6,647
  • Syphilis cases: 419

Southeastern Wisconsin, which includes Milwaukee, had the most number of reported cases — 19,259 — compared to other regions in the state. 

The data compiled in the DHS report can help public health officials identity communities that might need testing for sexually transmitted diseases. Brandon Kufalk, a public health educator with the agency's STD Control Section, said the bigger numbers in 2016 could actually be due to increased testing. 

"In some ways it’s good because obviously the more cases that we find, the more we’re able to stop the spread to other people," Kufalk said.

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are treatable with antibiotics. When someone tests positive for an STD, they’ll give the names of their sexual partners in the hope that those people can be located and brought in for testing.

Specific communities, like 20- to 24-year-olds or African-Americans, have higher infection rates than other races or age groups. Those communities are often targeted for testing or funding, according to Kufalk. He said convincing people to put resources in those groups is more, "bang for their buck."

"If we can concentrate some resources in that area, we can help reduce the overall rate for everybody," he said. 

There was also an increase in STDs nationwide in 2016, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Wisconsin Public Radio, © Copyright 2017, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Educational Communications Board. Find more WPR news on KUWS-FM 91.3 or wpr.org.

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