FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Sexually transmitted diseases are at an all-time high in California.
The State Department of Public Health reported Monday that more than 300,000 cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and early syphilis were diagnosed in 2017. That's a 45% jump from only five years ago.
In Fresno, many doctors believe the epidemic is being fueled by social awkwardness.
"I feel like that's something you just keep to yourself," said Allyssa Gomez, a pre-med student a Fresno State.
"People don't want to talk about it. It's just a no, no," said Vishal Boughen, a Fresno resident.
To Dr. Rob Lichtenstein, STDs are no different than any other illness. But he believes the embarrassment holds people back from getting tested.
"They see it as a stigma. 'Oh my God I was so clean, all of a sudden I'm dirty.' There is nothing dirty about it, any more than getting the cold or the flu."
When Dr. Lichtenstein first became an OB-GYN in the '90s, he only treated syphilis once a year. Two decades later in Fresno County, the number jumped to 160. This year, a record number of Californians were diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease.
"The primary reason is I think lack of access. Young people don't realize there is such easy access to places that will help them prevent STDs."
Health experts say decreasing condom usage, relationship apps, and a lack of awareness among patients are all factors. It's easy to get tested for STDs. You can go to Planned Parenthood, a doctor's office, or a health clinic.
"STDs are not the end of the world. They are easy to take care of, and it breaks my heart when I see someone who thinks their life is totally destroyed because they have some kind of an STD," said Dr. Lichtenstein
Most STDs are curable, but if left untreated they can cause infertility and other serious health problems.
Number of sexually transmitted diseases hit record high in California
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