March 7, 2002 -- The national gonorrhea rate has remained stable, but in many cities with the highest rates, the problem has escalated.
Thirteen of 20 cities with the highest gonorrhea rates in 1999 had more than 20% higher rates in 2000, the CDC reports. Among those cities: Kansas City, Mo. (37% increase); Buffalo, N.Y. (27%); Jacksonville, Fla. (23%); Detroit (22%); and Birmingham, Ala. (21%).
Nashville was not among the 20 most affected cities in 1999, but had an increase of 35% in 2000.
This trend highlights "the need to accelerate STD prevention and treatment efforts in these areas," says Ronald O. Valdiserri, MD, MPH, deputy director of the CDC's National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention, in a news release.
During the same period, several cities saw reduced gonorrhea rates. Atlanta, which had the fifth highest gonorrhea rate in 1999, cut infections by more than 38% in 2000. Washington, D.C., also saw a major improvement between 1999 and 2000, with rates falling more than 23%. Chicago reduced infections by 25% and dropped from the top 20 list.
Because gonorrhea is preventable, CDC experts stress the need for better prevention programs that promote abstinence from sexual activity among young people, encourage monogamy with an uninfected partner, and emphasize correct condom use for those with multiple partners, Valdiserri says.