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Gonorrhea Rates Up 52 Percent in Eight U.S. States

Rates up in eight Western states, while other regions have experienced declines over same period

FRIDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) -- While other regions of the United States have seen declines in the rate of gonorrhea, eight Western states have seen cases increase by 52 percent from 2000 to 2005, according to a report in the March 16 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed incidence rates for gonorrhea in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington -- all states with at least 500 gonorrhea cases and an increase of 25 percent or more in diagnoses. They found that rates had risen among both men and women and across most age and ethnic/racial groups. The gonorrhea rate for females increased from 52.3 per 100,000 in 2000 to 82.9 per 100,000 in 2005. For males the rate rose from 64.3 per 100,000 to 94.5 per 100,000.

The increase was attributable to two factors: more accurate testing and real increases in the rate of infection. In the period under study, there was an 87 percent increase in test volume at 21 public health laboratories, and 86 percent of cases were tested with more sensitive DNA tests, up from 49 percent in 2000. Moreover, in some states more men with gonorrhea symptoms came forward for testing.

Overall, the West had a 42 percent increase in cases compared to a drop of 22 percent in the South, 16 percent in the Northeast and a 5 percent drop in the Midwest. "CDC is collaborating with state and local health departments to further investigate and respond to these increases. Public health agencies should remain vigilant for early signs of increases in gonorrhea incidence in their areas," the authors report.

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