Montgomery Co. declares public health crisis after rising rates of sexually transmitted infections

Health officials in Montgomery County are calling the upward trend in chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis cases a public health crisis after levels of infection have reached the highest in a decade.

Cases of the sexually transmitted infections (STI) are especially high in people between the ages of 15 and 29, according to health officials.

According to state data, in 2017, Montgomery County saw 4,029 of chlamydia, which was up 17.5 percent over 2016.

Cases of gonorrhea were up 29 percent over the same time period, reaching 226 cases in 2017.

Montgomery County officials say the increases are in line with national data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but they are sounding the alarm because the incidences have reached their highest levels in the county in 10 years.

Officials say they are responding to the increases in STIs by making people aware of the numbers, reminding residents about testing opportunities like the Dennis Avenue Health Center in Silver Spring and educating people about contraception.

"The hope is that by releasing the information and having more conversations, it will make young persons, any residents of the county, but particularly young persons be more aware of the risks that they face in terms of what they encounter," said Dr. Travis Gayles, health officer for Montgomery County.

In the District of Columbia, HIV continued to be the major focus of a recent city report on sexual health, but cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea also saw increases between 2016 and 2017.