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Number of sexually transmitted disease cases rises in ND

FARGO — Sexually transmitted disease cases are on the rise in North Dakota, and people should take precautions, health officials advise.

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Cases of gonorrhea and syphilis increased last year, with syphilis increasing from 15 cases to 24, an increase of 60 percent, and gonorrhea increasing from 340 cases to 471, a rise of 38.5 percent.

Increased cases were confirmed in every quadrant of the state, and don’t appear to stem from generally increasing population, Lindsey VanderBusch, sexually transmitted diseases program manager for the North Dakota Department of Health, said Wednesday.

“We don’t believe it’s simply a population issue,” she said.

Instead, the increase in sexually transmitted diseases appears to be because people, especially those ages 15 to 24, are not taking precautions and are engaging in risky behaviors, such as indulging in unprotected sex and taking multiple partners, VanderBusch said.

“It’s something that’s becoming more prevalent in the general population that’s putting everyone at more and more risk,” she said.

Women can be infected with a sexually transmitted disease but not show any symptoms for “upwards of a year,” VanderBusch said. By then, they might be infertile, underscoring the need to go in for screenings.

For those who cannot afford medical care, “there are clinics and several local public health units across the state that can provide reduced or no-cost testing and treatment,” VanderBusch said.

Those at risk for sexually transmitted diseases include young people ages 15 to 24 who are sexually active, people with multiple sex partners, people who use condoms inconsistently and people who are sexually active and infected with HIV, the AIDS virus.

To reduce their risk, health officials advise that they abstain from sexual activity, have only one noninfected partner and use condoms consistently.

“Know your partner, know yourself, get tested,” VanderBusch said.

Patrick Springer

Patrick Springer first joined the reporting staff of The Forum in 1985. He can be reached by calling 701-241-5522. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to