State keeps eye on sexually transmitted diseases

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) Two medical alerts were issued last year due to increases in cases of gonorrhea and syphilis.

    Director of the State HIV and Aids program, Susan Jones said cases of gonorrhea continue to climb in Alaska.  In 2016, there was a 31% increase in gonorrhea.  Alaska ranked fourth in the nation for the disease.

    In 2018, Alaska saw the worst syphilis outbreak in 40 years.  There have been over 75 cases reported this year.

    She said STD's have not been as big of a problem in Southeast, "Southeast has fewer cases of infection. Southwest Alaska has a much higher rate.  The infections are disproportionately affecting the non-white population."

    "The best way to control it is to find people that are infected, get them tested, get them treated, and find out who they may have exposed to the infection," she added.

    Jones said they haven't been able to control the syphilis outbreak because they haven't been able to reach all the individuals who are infected and those they have infected, "Some individuals clearly aren't telling us who their partners are and maybe don't know their sexual partners that well."

    Jones said Aids and HIV have not been a problem in Alaska.  However, the rates of this disease have not dropped as much as other states in recent years.

    Audio from Susan Jones

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