Sexually transmitted diseases have been steadily rising in the last five years– more than the CDC has seen in the last two decades. KX’s Malique Rankin spoke with a local doctor on why these numbers keep climbing.
Cases of syphilis, Chlamydia, and gonorrhea have increased by more than 30 percent from 2013 to 2017. Surprisingly, a new medicine to help prevent HIV is contributing to the problem.
Dr. Mateo: “Now that we have medications available that can actually prevent HIV transmission, people take this pill and then they let their guard down of the transmission of other sexually transmitted diseases.”
Dr. Noe Mateo is the infectious disease doctor at Sanford Hospital. He handles the worst case scenarios of STD’s. He says that as medicine is advancing– so are these diseases. Some even becoming resistant to antibiotics.
Dr. Mateo: “Gonorrhea is now increasingly resistant”
Prevention starts with education. I spoke with a health teacher about how she gets the message through.
Nancy Kielpinski; Health and Phy-ed teacher at Mandan High School: “They do want to know information, but they don’t want to have to ask someone.”
Malique Rankin; reporter: “Do you think they understand the severity of worst case scenarios?”
Nancy Kielpinski; Health and Phy-ed teacher at Mandan High School: “I really don’t think they do. I think so many times, you talk about it, and they think, it’s not going to happen to me.”
Doctor Mateo says that mindset is part of why statistics are on the rise.
Dr. Mateo: “Their condom use rates actually drop. So next thing you know, the incidents of gonorrhea, and syphilis, and herpes, other infections like that, goes up. This is a trend that’s been going on in the United States easily for the last 5 years.”
Doctor Mateo also talked about the impact he’s seen when local and state agencies make budget cuts. He said he’s seen firsthand how a lack a resources can affect public health.