Why Is This Important?Although much less common than chlamydia infections, gonorrhea, caused by the bacterium ''Neisseria gonorrhoeae'', is a priority public health concern in Utah. Untreated gonorrhea infections can damage the reproductive systems of both males and females. Females with gonorrhea infection are at risk for developing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and both men and women may become infertile as a result of untreated gonorrhea infections. Also, susceptibility to infections such as HIV also increases when an individual has gonorrhea. Furthermore, pregnant women with gonorrhea can pass the infection to their infant during delivery, potentially resulting in ophthalmia neonatorum. Gonorrhea can spread to joints and become systemic (disseminated gonorrhea). In addition to the cervix and urethra, the rectum and pharynx are also possible sites of gonococcal infection.
Gonorrhea, Utah and U.S., 1992-2018
- Utah Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology
- National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Population Estimates: National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) through a collaborative agreement with the U.S. Census Bureau, IBIS Version 2018
Data NotesRates were calculated by dividing the number of cases for each year by the total population within that year and multiplying by 100,000. Prior to 2009, Utah rates were calculated using the morbidity report date; effective 2009, rates were calculated using the date of diagnosis.
Risk FactorsRisk factors for sexually transmitted diseases include:
* sexual activity among young adults 25 and younger
* multiple sex partners
* prior history of STDs
* unprotected sex
* illicit drug use.
Those who fall within one or more of these categories should be tested for STDs in regular intervals. Sites of infection may include pharynx, rectum, vagina, cervix, and urethra.
How Are We Doing?Following a doubling of the Utah gonorrhea rate from 2003 to 2006, when the rate peaked at 35.2 cases per 100,000 persons, the Utah gonorrhea rate decreased annually to the lowest reported rate of 9.8 in 2011. From 2011 to 2018, gonorrhea rates increased 834.7% to 91.6 cases per 100,000 persons.
In 2018, gonorrhea rates in the state were higher in males (122.9 cases per 100,000 persons) than in females (59.8 cases per 100,000 persons). Rates in females increased 1,172.3% from 2011-2018, compared to 724.8% among males during the same time frame. In 2016 rates of gonorrhea in males increased 28.6% while rates of gonorrhea in females increased 39.0%. Rates increased in both males and females in 2017, 18.3% and 19.2%, respectively. In 2018, rates of gonorrhea in males increased 15.0% while rates of gonorrhea in females increased only 5.8%.
The highest rates of gonorrhea in Utah in 2018 were among males aged 20 to 24 (344.6 cases per 100,000 persons) and males aged 25 to 29 (333.1 cases per 100,000 persons).
What Is Being Done?Persons who test positive for gonorrhea are confidentially interviewed by a disease intervention specialist from a local health department to educate the patient, ensure proper treatment, and to obtain sexual partner information for follow up. This process potentially prevents the spread of infection and reduces the likelihood of the patient becoming reinfected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends that patients with gonococcal infections be treated with a dual antibiotic therapy that is effective against chlamydia to simultaneously treat this frequent coinfection, improve gonorrhea treatment efficacy, and potentially slow the emergence of resistance to cephalosporins.
The Utah Department of Health Communicable Disease Prevention Program, along with local health departments, currently provide STD presentations upon request to a variety of organizations, agencies, and facilities.
Healthy People Objective: Reduce gonorrhea ratesU.S. Target: Not applicable, see subobjectives in this category
Date Indicator Content Last Updated: 10/26/2019