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Alaska, a state that has had unusually high sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates compared to the rest of the U.S., is now seeing a decline in its new cases, though some officials are not sure that the dip will last. The new outbreaks are mainly focused in the rural areas of the state, according to STD tests.
Efforts from the state's health department have brought infection rates down in 2012. In 2008, there was a severe outbreak of gonorrhea, but by last year, the state was on level or slightly below the national average, according to Alaska Dispatch. While new cases of gonorrhea were down 26 percent and chlamydia was down 7 percent last year, new cases have begun to grow again.
"We're feeling a little bit hesitant about that now. In particular with gonorrhea, we're worried about an increase we've seen in the first half of this year,." state health program manager Samuel Senft said in a statement on Thursday.
While the state has seen lowered rates of gonorrhea, which one state official described as "episodic" in nature, the northernmost state still had very high levels of chlamydia. Alaska also has the highest levels of STDs in the nation and has held the rank since 2000.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gonorrhea is a highly common infectious disease and often goes unreported. In fact, approximately half of all cases remain undetected. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause permanent bodily damage or be potentially life-threatening. The same source notes that chlamydia can also cause many problems, and both diseases can lead to infertility and other issues with conception and birthing.
These infections can also be difficult to notice, since they often don't have symptoms initially. STD diagnosis tests and anonymous STD testing can be helpful to those who seek discreet answers to any questions regarding their sexual health.
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