Wednesday, February 06, 2013

SF DPH: Male Rectal Gonorrhea Up 26%, But . . .

Nearly three-weeks ago, the San Francisco Department of Public Health released its December 2012 monthly STD report and it was full of stats about rising infections for city residents. The report's editorial note said:

Preliminary data on reportable STDs show increases for chlamydia, gonorrhea and early syphilis in 2012. Overall reported chlamydia increased from 4,747 to 4,871 cases (2.6%) while male rectal chlamydia increased in 2012 from 961 to 1085 cases for a 12.9% annual increase. Reported gonorrhea cases increased 10.7% from 2,246 in 2011 to 2,486 in 2012.

Additionally, rectal gonorrhea among men also increased from 620 cases to 781 cases--a 26.0% increase. [Emphasis added.]

When considering the increase of male rectal gonorrhea, bear in mind this explanation from the DPH's 2011 annual STD summary, which was also stated in the 2010 annual when this rate was initially going up:
Rectal and pharyngeal screening for gonorrhea and chlamydia for men who have sex with men began in 2003 and has expanded beyond City Clinic to local providers serving MSM populations. As a result, increases in case detection may be a function of increased screening for this often asymptomatic infection.

I asked Dr. Susan Philip, the head of STD control and prevention for DPH, if the preliminary 26% jump in male rectal gonorrhea correlates to more tests:

We cannot definitively say that the increases are due to changes in testing patterns - we don't have access to the data from private labs to assess this. We do plan to evaluate for any changes in testing numbers at the SFDPH public health lab, where we can fully review testing data for last year, but this does not necessarily represent what is happening citywide.

Regardless of stats and testing patterns, if you're sexually active, get yourself screened for infections and stay healthy. We'll see what DPH reports later this year about STD rates for 2012.

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