STD rates drop in Baltimore

Gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis declined in 2005, officials say

May 23, 2006

Rates of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis in Baltimore all fell in 2005, Health Department officials said yesterday. The decline extends long-term trends that began with stepped-up efforts in the 1990s to reduce rates of sexually transmitted disease in the city, which were then the worst in the nation.

Since 1995, gonorrhea rates in the city have fallen 45 percent, from more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 population to 547 cases per 100,000, according to the Baltimore Health Department. The rate fell by 11 percent last year alone.

The rate remains above national averages, but is in a steeper decline, officials said. The city's goal is to cut the gonorrhea rate to fewer than 300 cases per 100,000 by 2010.

The rate of positive tests for chlamydia in city-supported health clinics and family-planning clinics also declined. So did the total number of cases, after several years of increases attributed to expanded screening and more sensitive tests.

Syphilis rates, which peaked at 101 cases per 100,000 people in 1997, fell to 19 in 2002, according to the Health Department. After that, the rate increased, reaching almost 33 cases per 100,000 in 2004. Last year, they fell again, to fewer than 31 cases per 100,000.

Public health officials hope to eradicate congenital syphilis in Baltimore by 2010, and cut the number of adult cases to fewer than 4 per 100,000 people.

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