The number of gonorrhea cases reported among Wyomingites has increased dramatically in recent years, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.

"When we look back over the past five years, our gonorrhea case count has gone up a startling 529 percent," Communicable Disease Surveillance Program Manager Courtney Smith said in a statement.

From 2016 to 2017, the number of gonorrhea cases in Wyoming shot up by 50 percent, with 415 cases reported statewide last year. Niobrara, Fremont and Laramie counties saw the highest gonorrhea rates in 2017.

"Based on what people tell us during follow up interviews, we believe we are seeing increased gonorrhea because more people are having anonymous sex and more people are having multiple sex partners, while not enough people are using condoms," Smith said.

Smith added that rates for other Sexually-transmitted diseases such as chlamydia continue to be a concern, but have not grown as much as the gonorrhea rates.

Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics, but can cause complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility if not treated.

"The only way to know for sure if you have gonorrhea is to be tested," Smith continued. One way for people to take charge of their personal health is to consider getting screened for STDs.

The department says screening is especially important for:

  • Those who have been with a new sex partner in the past 60 days;
  • Those who have been with multiple partners in the past 60 days;
  • Pregnant women;
  • Sexually active males and females under the age of 25;
  • Those who have STD symptoms such as discharge, burning or itching at the affected site;
  • HIV-positive people;
  • Those who have had sexual contact with someone who has an STD;
  • Men who have sex with men;
  • Current or past residents of detention or corrections facilities.

Abstaining from sex, reducing the number of sex partners and consistently and correctly using condoms are all effective prevention strategies. WDH Communicable Disease Unit efforts such as condom dispenser activities and a condom mailer option help make condoms available for those who can't afford them or can't get to places where condoms are typically offered.

More information about condom availability, as well as STD prevention and testing, is available at knowyo.org, or from a medical professional.

The knowyo.org website offers voucher codes for confidential gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, HIV and hepatitis testing at little or no cost. The vouchers can be used in many locations across Wyoming.