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As national STI rates continue to climb, Arkansas remains in the top 15 states with steadily increasing rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea infections.

Arkansas ranked 11th and 8th in the U.S. for the highest numbers of reported chlamydia and gonorrhea cases in 2018, surpassing national rates for the fourth consecutive year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There were 17,663 cases of chlamydia reported in 2018, a 2% increase from 2017 and a 5.3% increase from 2016, according to the Arkansas Department of Health’s annual surveillance report.

The ADH recorded 7,300 cases of gonorrhea in 2018, an 8.6% increase from 2017 and a 26.6% jump from 2016, according to the ADH.

Between 2015 and 2018, chlamydia cases increased 11.6% and gonorrhea cases increased 54.4%, according to the ADH.

Of 74,390 female patients under 26 years old tested for chlamydia at 113 health centers across the U.S. in 2017, 5,151 (6.92%) tested positive, according to the most recent American College Health Association Sexual Health Services Survey.

For male patients, the positivity rate was 9.36%, or 3,485 of 37,215 patients.

Of 17,389 female patients tested for gonorrhea in 2017, 73 (less than 1%) were positive, according to the survey. For male patients, the positivity rate was 2.08%, or 130 of 6,241 patients tested.

STI screenings for chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV and syphilis are available for free at all local ADH units in Arkansas, including Washington County Health Unit in Fayetteville.

The UofA’s student health fee does not cover STI screenings.

Rates for these infections trend higher among Arkansas youth aged 15-19, according to the most recent state profile from the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.

Arkansas had the 4th highest rate of chlamydia cases among 15- to 19-year-olds in the U.S. in 2016, with a total of 5,304 cases reported, according to SIECUS.

Gonorrhea rates were even higher among that age group, with 1,320 reported cases ranking Arkansas third highest in the U.S. in 2016.

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