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STD Risks Growing Among Young Utah Adults

According to public health officials, Gonorrhea rates are increasing among young, sexually active Utahns.

The Utah Department of Health reported a dramatic increase for Gonorrhea in 2016; suggesting that Gonorrhea had increased in one year by 29.7 percent.

“I think that there’s a lot of different reasons why we see increased Gonorrhea activity,” said Scott White, an epidemiology manager within the Prevention, Treatment, and Care program with the Utah Department of Health. “Some of it is just that during that age group, there are more lifestyle choices that put you at risk for sexually transmitted diseases.”

Based on data, lifestyle choices that tend to increase STD risk nationwide for those between the ages of 15-24 include having multiple partners and not using preventatives, such as condoms.

Whether sexually active young adults believe they have an STD or not, White said people should be screened frequently and that most STDs, especially Gonorrhea, can be treated through health departments.

“When there is a case of Gonorrhea, the local health departments will reach out to that person and ensure that they are appropriately treated and also ask them about any sexual partners they've had,” White said, “and then they will follow up with those partners to encourage them to be tested and treated if necessary as well.”

Disease intervention specialist programs are unique to Utah because, White said many other states have too many cases of Gonorrhea and not a large enough budget to help fund the treatments. though Utah has seen an increase in Gonorrhea cases, Utah still ranks fairly low when compared to other states.

According toState Master, a U.S. statistical database, Louisiana has the highest Gonorrhea rate, while Utah ranks 44th in the nation.