Denver sees rise in STDs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis

The number of Denver residents with a sexually transmitted disease has increased for the fourth year in a row, partly due to fewer men wearing condoms and a rise in women using long-term birth control, Denver Public Health officials said Tuesday.

Chlamydia diagnoses jumped 24 percent in four years, with about  7,317 residents — or more than one in 100 people in Denver — having the infection in 2018. Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the city.

There have also been increases in the rate of gonorrhea infections and syphilis, which grew 150 percent and 75 percent, respectively, last year, according to a news release.

It’s unclear exactly why the numbers are going up, but part of the increase in STDs is being attributed to the decrease in testing.

Screenings for the infections are lagging as more women are turning to long-term birth control, such as intrauterine devices or IUDs. The interval between when women have Pap smears — a test for cervical cancer — performed has also increased, said Dr. Karen Wendel, director of HIV/STD prevention at Denver Public Health, in an interview.

“It’s not even just the community, but it’s also even the medical profession, that seems somewhat unaware of how STDs are reemerging,” she said, adding that condom use is also down.