PHOENIX - An increase in sexually transmitted diseases across the state of Arizona has public health officials increasingly concerned.
"When you look at the number of diseases that get reported every year, STDs dwarf everything else," said Jessica Rigler at the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Rigler and the rest of the staff are paying close attention to the STD rates in recent years as they've seen a steady increase.
"Just for the first half of 2017, we've seen about 26,000 reported STDs which is a 12-percent increase from that time frame in 2016," Rigler said.
There are five reportable STDs in Arizona: chancroid, chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, and syphilis.
It's generally up to county health investigators and epidemiologists to track -- and in some cases track down -- the sexual history of those infected. The idea is to cut off an unnecessary spread of the disease from its source.
More than 65 percent of all of Arizona's STD cases are in Maricopa County.
Across Arizona, the main source for these diseases is in a specific the age group, according to a state report released earlier this year. The report reveals that 78 percent of all STD cases are found among young adults, 15-29 years old.
The Arizona Department of Health Services says 82 percent of Arizona's chlamydia infections are found in people fitting this group, mostly made up of millennials. Additionally, the same age group makes up for 63 percent of the state’s gonorrhea infections and 43 percent of the state's syphilis infections.
Rigler doesn’t ignore the potential correlation between people aged 15-29 and their use of technology, specifically dating apps.
"We know the advent of mobile technologies facilitates easier meetups for people, and that's creating more of an opportunity to spread STDs in our community," Rigler said.
According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, the majority of adults using online dating methods, websites and mobile apps, are between the ages 18-24.
Team 12 spent an hour talking to students at Arizona State University's downtown Phoenix campus to learn their thoughts on mobile dating apps and their possible connection to STD rates.
"Definitely makes sense," Chris Jameson said. "It's just like greater access to a bunch of people inherently ups the risk, especially when you're getting involved with dating and hooking up. I can definitely see a correlation."
Cathryn Vanfarowe said she used to be on one of those apps but quickly learned it wasn't for her.
"In my experience, it's just people trying to meet up for the night and hooking up with them and that's not what I was looking for," Vanfarowe said.
To read the latest report by the department of health services, click here.
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