Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are on the rise in the US state of South Dakota. In fact, the STD rates have reached near historic numbers in the state, and prevention efforts by the South Dakota Department of Health haven’t been able to reverse this trend of rising STD rates statewide.
STDs are personal health issues and a cause of grave concern among public health officials in South Dakota. Chlamydia and gonorrhea rates in Minnehaha County are the highest in the entire state.
It is worth noting that according to the state health department, STDs are the most commonly reported infectious diseases in this state, and the cases are showing an unprecedented rise of late. Reportedly, gonorrhea rates have increased five times over the past decade. In contrast, chlamydia rates have doubled since 2003, and the syphilis rate has recorded a ten-fold increase over the last decade. In 2015, South Dakota ranked 19th in gonorrhea rates, 22nd in chlamydia rates, and 27th in syphilis among the 50 US states.
Another issue of concern for the health department is the sudden rise in the cases of congenital syphilis. The department has been channeling efforts to address this issue and helped treat around 75% of the cases it discovered in 2019.
As per the state’s STD surveillance report 2015-2016, more than 60% of South Dakota’s male syphilis cases were due to male-to-male sexual contact, and 37% of high schoolers were identified to be at risk of contracting STDs.
Prevention efforts include regular screening, monogamy, abstinence, and condoms. STD prevention and treatment are possible if only you choose to get yourself checked for an STI (sexually transmitted infection) and seek treatment immediately if tested positive. STDs are generally asymptomatic and don’t show any symptoms until they have progressed to advanced stages when there’s no turning back. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), testing is essential for high-risk groups of the population, including those less than 25 years of age, men who have sex with men (MSM), and women of childbearing age.
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South Dakota infection rates are rapidly rising. Despite state and local efforts, STD cases sharply rose in the first three months of 2018. However, the state has been recording high rates of STDs for the past ten years. According to the state’s 2015-2016 STD surveillance report, the number of gonorrhea cases rose from 1,055 in 2015 to 1,269 in 2016, chlamydia cases increased from 3,877 in 2015 to 4,331 in 2016, while syphilis recorded a drop from 48 cases in 2015 to 40 cases in 2016.
Chlamydia is currently the most frequently reported infectious disease in South Dakota, but this is also not a novel discovery as chlamydia’s historical trend has been upward in this state. During 2012-2016 all 66 counties of South Dakota reported chlamydia cases. The number of chlamydia cases ranged from 1,313 in 1995 to 4,331 in 2016, marking a whopping 230% rise over a 22-year period.
Since 1974, South Dakota has observed a rise in gonorrhea cases, with 2,254 cases reported that year. During the 1990s, there was a sharp decline in gonorrhea rates, with fewer than 200 cases reported annually throughout the decade. In 2006, South Dakota had the country’s 39th highest gonorrhea rate, with 47.3 cases diagnosed per 100,000 people. However, by 2015, this number increased significantly, and the state was ranked 19th. By 2016, the state’s gonorrhea prevalence rate almost tripled to 147.1 cases diagnosed per 100,000 people, the highest in 35 years.
South Dakota has observed a resurgence in syphilis cases, which reached a peak in 2014 with 76 early syphilis cases and three congenital syphilis cases reported in a year. Between 2012 and 2016, the state’s overall syphilis case count was five congenital, over 130 primary, 85 secondary, 51 early-latent, and 72 late-latent syphilis cases. In 2011, the state reported the lowest primary/secondary syphilis rate in the US, with zero cases reported. However, South Dakota’s syphilis count showed a dramatic increase in 2014, with the state touching 14th highest rate with 6.3 cases identified per 100,000 people.
In November 2021, there were 511 cases of syphilis reported in South Dakota, which is over ten times higher compared to statistics from the past three years and 1,011% higher than the average year-to-date five-year average of 46. Chlamydia and gonorrhea cases are rising as well, but not as much as syphilis.
In South Dakota, STDs are widely prevalent across all age spectrums. Between 2012 and 2016, as per the state’s health department’s STD surveillance report, four chlamydia cases were diagnosed in children aged ten or below. More cases were identified in people aged between 60 and 70 years than before, perhaps because this age group has reported a sharp increase in the use of medications for sexual activity.
Regarding gonorrhea, the peak age was 22 years between 2012-2016, and females accounted for almost 61% of all cases in the state. The median age of infected females was 24 years, and the median male age was 26 years. On the other hand, females reportedly accounted for over 70% of all chlamydia cases in South Dakota during this period. The peak age for chlamydial infection was 19 years for females, with the median age being 21 years. The media male case age was 23 years for chlamydia.
It is worth noting that South Dakota reported the 45th lowest male-to-female chlamydia incidence rate in the country between 2012 and 2016. However, American Indians accounted for 40.5% of all chlamydia cases in the state, followed by over 39% for whites and 4.8% for blacks.
In fact, the state’s American Indian chlamydia rate of 2,130 cases/100,000 people was the second-highest in the USA. Between 2012 and 2015, American Indians accounted for 62% of all gonorrhea cases, 24.6% of cases were diagnosed in whites, and 9.9% in blacks. In 2015, South Dakota’s American Indian gonorrhea prevalence rate was highest in the USA with 827 cases/100,000 people compared to the national American Indian gonorrhea cases rate of 179 cases/100,000 population.
Unlike chlamydia and gonorrhea, males in South Dakota accounted for the majority (67.1%) of primary/secondary syphilis cases during 2012-2015. The peak infection age for syphilis was 22 years. the media male age was identified as 33 years and medial female age was 28 years. At least 49% of cases were identified in American Indians, over 41% in whites, and 5.7% in Blacks.
The South Dakota Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Control Program is designed to prevent and reduce the incidence of STDs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV. Through this program, statewide consultation and technical support are provided along with advanced screening and surveillance services.
Moreover, the program provides partner services, health care provider education, partner notification service for reportable STDs, and case management facilities. STD intervention, control, and prevention are ensured through a cooperative effort involving private physicians, local/state health department personnel, other health care providers, and community members at large. The Disease Intervention Specialist or DIS is a crucial player in this regard.
The South Dakota HIV/AIDS Prevention Program is initiated with the primary goal and ambition of achieving the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which entails curbing the rise of all common STDs. This program aims to reduce the number of people infected with STIs, increase access to care, improve health outcomes for people living with HIV or other STDs, and reduce prevailing health-related disparities.
The South Dakota Ryan White Part B CARE Program offers support to DIS and partner services of the South Dakota Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Control Program. An annual federal grant funds it with the sole purpose of assisting STD infected, low-income individuals so that they could fulfil their health care needs.
South Dakota offers free STD testing facilities at designated STD clinics throughout the state. Every county has twelve public clinics and three private clinics. Free testing for herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis is offered at these clinics. Same day testing facility is offered with results delivered within 48 hours.
Most people experience feelings of hesitation when going to get tested for STD, despite knowing they might have contracted one. EasySTD was created to change that.
Visit your nearest lab or clinic, order your home testing kit online, and follow the given instructions from an STD testing provider.
After ordering your STD test, visit the testing center to get tested or take a self sample including urine, cotton swab, or finger prick with the home testing kit and mail it back.
Receive the lab-certified results of your STD test from your test provider via mail or phone within 2 to 3 days. If the test comes positive, consult your doctor immediately.