Butte County, Calif. -- STDs are on the rise in California and in Butte County, but these aren't slight year-to-year increases, they're rising at an alarming rate.
The state report says there's been a 45% increase in Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Early Syphilis in the last 5 years.
And the numbers are rising in Butte County, especially with early Syphilis.
“We have a lot of folks who aren't having sex with condoms, I think that's a really easy way to look at these numbers,” said Butte County Public Health Education Specialist Cassie Miracle.
She says they are seeing an increase in STDs that's following state trends, and Syphilis is the one that's increasing most rapidly
“So why Syphilis? Syphilis is often called the great masquerader.”
She says when people get it, many won't even know they have it because the symptoms can be so obscure.
“It may show up as a rash on the palm of your hands or maybe a little bit of a hair loss, and that's not something you commonly think of when someone gets an STD.”
In terms of which STD Butte County has the most of, that answer is Chlamydia.
Here are the numbers: from 2013 to 2017, the rate of Chlamydia cases per 10,000 people has increased from 417 to 534, Gonorrhea from 64 to 136, and Early Syphilis from not even 1 to 32.
She says STDs have been around forever, and says the reason for the spike really might be that people just don't know they have them and don't get tested.
“It doesn't burn when I pee, so I must not have any, but that's not the case at all.”
The state report says Chlamydia and Gonorrhea rates were highest among those under 30.
We spoke with several Chico State students, and some of them said dating apps could have something to do with it.
“The three people I know, it was always after meeting someone off of either Tinder or any of the other dating apps, and I know that a lot of people aren't practicing safe sex and it's just been a very carefree environment lately,” said one student.
“A lot of students are sexually active, especially younger people, and the hookup culture is pretty prominent,” said another.
Miracle said they have so many resources like free condoms and free or low cost testing all around the state, so it's very tough for her to see these numbers keep rising.
This year they also received a 3-year Syphilis grant which goes directly to educating people about the dangers of STDs and how to prevent them, and she says it has been very successful so far.