Public Health Reports Syphilis on the Rise in Santa Barbara County

By the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (SBCPHD) has released the most recent data of sexually transmitted infections (STI) within the county. Through the analysis by the Epidemiology unit, the report reveals overall data trends and analyses across demographics among five STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhea, early syphilis, HIV, and the newly reported Mpox. Understanding STI trends in our community can help residents and providers recognize the importance of STI screening and treatment.

Gathered from mandated provider and laboratory reporting, highlights from this year’s report include:

  • While chlamydia has been on the rise since 2021, counts and rates were still below pre-pandemic levels in 2022.

  • Rates of gonorrhea and early syphilis have been on the rise since 2020, and surpassed pre-pandemic rates setting county records in 2022.

  • HIV case counts and rates have been steady between 2018-2022.

  • Compared to the State, SBC rates were lower across all the reported STIs.

  • A near tripling of early syphilis rates among residents of childbearing age was seen between 2021 and 2022. The increase of early syphilis in this population has contributed to recent increases in congenital syphilis, a preventable disease that can have detrimental impacts on infants.

“These trends highlight the importance of getting tested, especially pregnant people at their initial prenatal appointment and again for syphilis during their 3rd trimester,” said Michelle Wehmer, Epidemiologist of the Public Health Department and author of the STI report.

In addition to STI data breakdowns, the report includes California STI screening recommendations and a ‘Call to Action’ directed to local medical providers written by Health Officer Dr. Ansorg and Dr. Dean of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, both of whom screen and treat patients for STIs.

The SBCPHD encourages individuals to:

  • Talk openly and honestly to your healthcare provider about sexual health and STIs.

  • Talk with your partner(s) before having sex.

  • Get tested. It’s the only way to know for sure if you have an STI.

  • Many STIs do not cause any symptoms, so you could have one and not know.

  • If you test positive for an STI, work with your healthcare provider to get the correct treatment.


For recommended STI Screening Guidelines: Recommendations.aspx

For prevention, testing, and treatment guidance, visit the new Santa Barbara Sexual Health Website:

SBC Public Health

Written by SBC Public Health

Public information provided by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department. Learn more at

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