Despite drop, Alaska STD infection rates still higher than national average

The Department of Health and Social Services released a health bulletin on June 21 documenting changes in the rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea infections in Alaska.

Alaska had the highest chlamydia infection rates in the United States in 2010 and 2011, and has consistently had the first or second highest rate in the nation since 2000, according to the report.

In 2011, there were 5,813 cases of chlamydia infections reported. Of those cases, 84 percent were under the age of 30.

The report also noted that despite being one of the highest rates in the nation this is a decrease of 5 percent from 2010 and the largest annual decrease ever recorded for Alaska.

Rates of infection declined everywhere in the state except the Gulf Coast region.

Chlamydia infections often coincide with gonorrhea infections.

Alaska saw an outbreak of gonorrhea in 2008 which peaked in 2010 and declined last year with 993 cases reported.

While Alaska still has rates higher than the national average, it was a 22 percent drop in cases between 2010 and 2011.

However, while reports decreased around the state, the number of cases increased in Interior Alaska and the Gulf Coast.

Both infections can result in pre-term labor, pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility in women and men among other problems.

The Department of Health and Social services recommends people at risk of sexually transmitted diseases use condoms correctly and consistently and limit the number of sexual partners.