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California is in the midst of a sexually-transmitted disease (STD) epidemic, and it's so bad that the number of stillbirths due to syphilis has reached a 20-year high, U.S. News & World Report is reporting. "We've been seeing increases for all three diseases for the last five or six years", department rep James Watt tells the San Francisco Chronicle, though particularly concerning is a 30% increase in stillbirths caused by congenital syphilis.

The health department is spearheading a "multi-pronged" effort to educate the public about the risks and get the word out to medical providers about the latest advances in screening and treatment, Bauer said. "Regular testing and treatment are very important for people who are sexually active, even for people who have no symptoms".

Klausner placed much of the blame for the overall STD spike on what he called the "decimation" of public health infrastructure since the 2008 financial crisis.

Chlamydia can be transmitted by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex, affecting both men and women. According to the CDC, most people with chlamydia don't have symptoms, or those symptoms may not appear for several weeks.

Chlamydia can damage the female reproductive system, reducing or completely blocking their ability to get pregnant in the future.

In the last few years, Kern County has seen sexually transmitted disease rates soar, putting Kern's STD rates among the highest in the state.

The most reported STD was chlamydia, with 218,710 cases reported in 2017.

Health officials said they were working with local public health agencies and community partners to enhance their capacity to investigate and reduce the spread of STDs.

Common among young people aged 15-24, gonorrhea can cause infections in the genitals, rectum, and throat.

Reported instances of syphilis also increased. This is the highest number reported since 1995.

In California, chlamydia rates among women were 60 percent higher than among males, and 54 percent of cases were in people under the age of 25. If left untreated, gonorrhea can increase chances of getting or transmitting HIV. It can occur after direct contact with a syphilis sore during sexual intercourse. On the other hand, syphilis can lead to neurologic issues, loss of hearing and blindness.