PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - The Center for Disease Control recently released new statistics on sexually transmitted diseases for the US.
The year 2016 marks the highest number of new cases of gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia ever reported. Mississippi ranks high on each of those lists.
The CDC found the state ranks number one for gonorrhea, number three for chlamydia and seventh for syphilis based on the rates of infection per 100,000 people.
"We don't know exactly why they are so high here, but there are definitely ways to prevent STDs, said Dr. Taylor Banahan. "I have a feeling that the population here isn't doing a great job with those things."
Banahan is an obstetrician-gynecologist at Gulf Coast Ob-Gyn in Pascagoula. She says she's very concerned with the stats.
"My initial thought was we need to do a better job at educating our patients," she said.
While the most reliable way to avoid infection is by abstinence, there are ways to reduce the risk of contracting an STD. Preventative measures include using condoms, limiting sexual partners, and mutually agreeing to have sex with only one person.
Banahan also says it's important to get tested periodically based on your age and your risk.
"The age group that accounts for about half of our positive STD screens is age 15-25," Banahan said.
Dr. Banahan says it's important for patients to get treatment if they test positive.
"Prompt treatment is important because the sooner it's treated, the sooner it's eradicated and not spread," she said.
When it comes tackling growing STD rates, the bigger issue to overcome is the stigma associated with being infected.
"It's an uncomfortable subject and patients don't necessarily want to tell their partners or they've had multiple partners and they don't want one partner to know," she said.
Breaking that down that barrier and getting the community involved in the conversation is critical in bringing those infection rates down.