The national gonorrhea rate stabilized in 2000 after rising 9 percent from 1997 to 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday. But the sexually transmitted disease rose in 2000 in 13 of the 20 cities with the highest rates.
Gonorrhea is quickly diagnosed and can be treated with antibiotics. Left untreated, it can facilitate the spread of HIV and cause chronic pelvic pain and infertility.
"The continued health consequences from this completely preventable STD are unacceptable," said Dr. Ronald O. Valdiserri, deputy director of the CDC's prevention center for sexually transmitted diseases.
The national gonorrhea rate in 2000 was 131.6 cases per 100,000 people, down from 132 in 1999.
But the disease rose more than 20 percent in five cities that already had high rates - Kansas City, Mo.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Detroit.
It dropped more than 20 percent in Atlanta, Washington and Chicago. The CDC called for more study to find out which prevention methods worked in the cities.
The gonorrhea figures were presented at the CDC's National STD Prevention Conference in San Diego.
A separate study released at the conference suggests two in five gay men in America are infected with HPV-16, a sexually transmitted virus that causes most of the world's cervical cancer in women.
Researchers cautioned that the data were preliminary. The study was conducted from 1988 to 1994 and surveyed only 83 men who have sex with men. It found 38 percent were infected with HPV-16 - five times the rate for straight men.
Researchers said they hope the study will spur more research on the impact of HPV-16 on anal and penile cancer in gay men.