STD rates climb in California, with syphilis making the biggest jump

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File photo: Health officials are are concerned about an increase in 2011 STD case rates from 2010.

Rises in syphilis and other sexually transmitted disease cases in California have state health officials concerned.

The California Department of Public Health has released new figures showing syphilis cases rose 18 percent last year compared to 2010. There was also a 5 percent increase in chlamydia cases and a 1.5 percent hike in gonorrhea cases.

Health officials are concerned because the sexually transmitted diseases can lead to more serious health problems, like infertility and an increased risk of HIV, the Los Angeles Times reports.

State public health officials are trying to target certain demographics in order to reduce transmission, according to the Times. Syphilis rates are highest among men who have sex with men; young black women contract gonorrhea much more often than young white women.

There were about 164,000 chlamydia cases, 27,000 gonorrhea cases and about 2,500 syphilis cases reported last year in California.

The agency's sexually transmitted disease chief Heidi Bauer said people may be engaging in more risky behaviors and becoming more complacent about practicing safe sex.

"The longer people have these infections without being treated the more likely it is they are going to develop a complication that will have both health and financial costs," she told the Times.

With contributions by Andrea Wang

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