Alaska Rise in Sexually Transmitted Diseases Reported
August 8, 2003
For the second consecutive year, Alaska reported the highest chlamydia rates in the country, and state Division of Public Health officials say the numbers are growing. In 2002, 3,805 cases of the STD were reported in Alaska, a 40 percent increase over 2001. The state also reported an increase in gonorrhea rates, with 642 cases in 2002, a 41 percent increase over 2001.Adapted from:
Advanced screening technologies could be partially responsible for detecting more cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea, said Alison Bell, a state medical epidemiologist. Also, more people are being tested for chlamydia, which became reportable in the state in 1996. The numbers could be skewed by the fact that not all 50 states report incidences of chlamydia, Bell said. Bell attributed part of the increase in gonorrhea to more testing, as well. "The gonorrhea numbers have been coming down significantly for decades," she said.
The state also reported an increase in HIV/AIDS cases, from 51 cases in 2001 to 87 cases in 2002. Bell said that does not necessarily represent a lasting trend.
Females comprised 2,576 of the chlamydia cases in 2002, and males made up 1,229. There were 289 male cases of gonorrhea and 353 female cases. People ages 15 to 24 represent the highest-risk group for contracting the two diseases.
By race, Alaska Natives constitute 44 percent of the chlamydia cases reported, followed by whites at 39 percent, blacks at 11 percent and Asians at 6 percent. For reported gonorrhea cases, Alaska Natives represented 55 percent, with whites at 26 percent, blacks at 15 percent, Asians at 3 percent and others at 1 percent. The report noted that the high numbers reported among blacks and Natives could be due in part to detection bias, noting that minority groups often seek health care through publicly funded institutions that frequently have a better reputation for reporting STDs.