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Rising numbers of some STDs actually sign of success, says state

State is finding more cases of STDs because it's looking for them.

The number of people diagnosed with chlamydia rose 6.4% in Michigan from 2014 to 2015.  In all, there were 47,702 cases of chlamydia last year.

Gonorrhea cases rose 9.8%, with 10,615 people being infected.

But the increase probably doesn't mean that more people are catching STDs, says Katie McComber with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

She says physicians across the state are being urged to test all women under age 25 for chlamydia. And they're being urged to test men who have sex with men for rectal and oral gonorrhea infections, not just genital gonorrhea infections.

"We're telling doctors to look for it more, and when you look for something more, you will find it more," says McComber.

Chlamydia in particular is a big problem for women, who often do not know they are infected. Untreated chlamydia can lead to fertility problems and pelvic inflammatory disease.

When it comes to syphilis, the number of cases dropped nearly 2% last year. But McComber says there are pockets of areas in the state where men who have sex with men are contracting syphilis, and that's where the public health focus is.

"We're trying to encourage screening almost every three months in certain clinical settings, " says McComber, "so that we can catch syphilis as early as we can and treat it to prevent it spreading to other people."

McComber says Michigan is not seeing an increase in drug-resistent cases of STDs, unlike what is happening nationally. 

People are urged to use condoms and limit the number of their sexual partners to avoid STDs, and get screened regularly in order to receive treatment as soon as possible.


Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.