STD Report Has Mixed News for San Diego

There is good news and not so good news about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in San Diego.

After several years of increases, the number of chlamydia cases dropped in 2013. However, gonorrhea and syphilis infections in the region continued to climb, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

Last year, the number of chlamydia cases dropped by 4 percent—from 16,538 cases in 2012 to 16,042 in 2013.

“A decline in chlamydia cases was reported for the first time in several years, and that is good news for San Diego County,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “However, this is just a one-year drop. Sexually active individuals should continue to take precautionary measures to avoid getting infected with chlamydia and other STDs, especially since gonorrhea and syphilis cases went up.”

The number of gonorrhea cases jumped by 10 percent, with the increase coming largely among men. There were 2,597 cases in 2012, compared to 2,865 last year. Women account for less than a third of the total cases of gonorrhea reported in the county.

Primary and secondary syphilis cases (considered the most infectious) also increased by 4 percent, from 333 cases in 2012 to 347 cases last year. The vast majority of these cases occurred in men.

Chlamydia continues to be the most commonly reported STD in San Diego and California, and young women between 15 and 24 years of age continue to have the highest rates of infection.

“Young women are particularly susceptible to long-term complications of STDs since they can result in infertility and other long-term reproductive health problems,” said M. Winston Tilghman, M.D, senior physician and STD controller for the County. “Individuals can decrease their risk of STDs by talking openly about them with their partners, using condoms, practicing mutual monogamy and getting tested on a regular basis.”

STD prevention is part of the County’s Live Well San Diego initiative which aims to improve the health and well-being of local residents.

As in the rest of the state, profound racial disparities exist with regard to STDs. African Americans have the highest rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and early syphilis.

To address some of these health disparities, the County has implemented programs such as Don’t Think. Know., a free home testing program for gonorrhea and chlamydia available to women 25 years old and younger. The program can be accessed by visiting or by calling (619) 692-5669 (KNOW).

The County also operates four STD clinics, which offer testing and treatment for most STDs on a walk-in basis. For more information about STDs and testing services visit or call (619) 293-4700. 


José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact