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As Heard on Morning Line: Health & Human Services warns of gonorrhea outbreak

Koahnic Broadcast Corporation

Our guest this morning on Our Community, Susan Jones, RN/MN is the Program Manager for the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health, Epidemiology Section's HIV/STD program.  Jones says the data her office collects shows a marked increase in cases of Gonorrhea from 2016 data, with about 1500 cases. 

"The state infection rate jumped 31% in 2016, and it's still climbing in 2017. During the first 6 months of 2017, there were 1,035 cases reported. More than half of those cases (56 percent) occurred in Anchorage, and 58 percent were in individuals aged 29 or younger."

Jones also says the disease has a disproportionate effect on the non-white population, as well as youth, "Of the about 1500 cases, more than 700 were reported to be Alaska Native people." 

One of the important things Jones wants to point out, is that treatment works for Gonorrhea, but sometimes doctors need to know a person's specific sexual practices.  

"It's 100% curable, but it's important that patients let their medical care professionals know  where to look."  

One of the most important reasons to get treated and cured is that the disease can cause scarring of tissues that could lead to further trouble in the future.

"Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious health problems in both women and men, including infertility and pregnancy complications. People with gonorrhea are also at higher risk for contracting and spreading Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)"

Given the increase of cases, Jones says that preventing the spread of the disease is an easier way to deal with the situation than treating a bigger outbreak in the future. 

"Condoms are highly effective at preventing sexually transmitted diseases. Anyone who has unprotected sex with a person who could be infected, or anyone who experiences symptoms of gonorrhea, should visit a healthcare provider for regular testing and get treated promptly if infected. Gonorrhea is curable with the right medication, but controlling spread of the infection requires treating patients as well as identifying, testing, and treating all of their recent sexual partners."

To see the data, check out their website: 

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