In an effort to curb rising cases of STIs in the county in conjunction with National HIV Awareness Day, Clear Creek County is holding an education and testing-based fair.
Clear Creek County Public Health Director Dr. Timothy Ryan is recently more used to answering questions about COVID infections, but this week he took time to explain why Coloradans need to keep tabs on sexually transmitted infections as well.
"I think every county should be doing this and the state as well. It is an important topic. It is not one that is going away. People are people and we are designed to do these things. To put it bluntly: as long as people are having sex, people should be having these events," he said.
Spoiler alert: Coloradans are still having sex, which means sexually transmitted infections are still a risk.
Here's the latest data on infections in Colorado by the numbers:
The CDC released data from 2015-2019 that states that in Colorado:
• Chlamydia increased by 25%
• Gonorrhea by 118%
• Syphilis by 158%
• Congenital syphilis 450%
• Congenital syphilis is the condition that can be passed on to the baby during pregnancy.
• Congenital syphilis was eradicated, but came back a few years ago.
• Babies can die from congenital syphilis if they are not treated in time. We had a few deaths in 2021 caused by this.
• 2020 was a different year because of the pandemic. We saw a slight decrease during the first months of the pandemic (mostly because medical services became limited and people were not testing), but then STIs are increasing again. In 2020:
• Chlamydia decreased by 12% (similar national rates)
• Gonorrhea increased by 1%
• Syphilis increased by 24%
• Congenital syphilis increased by 100%
• Syphilis and congenital syphilis continue to increase in concerning rates
• One thing that stands out from the Western Slope is that Gonorrhea increased by 43% in 2020 compared to 2019. That is very different from all the other areas in the state that had either decreases, or very little increases.
• Syphilis also increased by 31% in the region from 2019-2020
Ryan said this data might not even cover all the cases.
"With many of these infections, they don't seek medical attention, right? They stop having sex until it goes away or subsides, so the numbers that we do get are usually typically the tip of the iceberg; it isn't a true accurate account of what is out there."
Still, as with most things, COVID has changed how the game works on this front.
"COVID is barring lots of things and one of the things is an increase in STDs. People are people and people were quarantined for a long time. When you let them out, we are seeing this both in money spending and travel and they are doing everything they couldn't do before and sex is no exception to that reality."
The event will take place on Monday outside the new Health and Wellness Center (1969 Miner Street, Idaho Springs) from 3:00-7:00 p.m.
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