The most recent data available suggests reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have declined. This is good news, but experts at University of California San Diego AntiViral Research Center say STD rates could soon be on the rise again.

“While stay-at-home orders and social distancing mandated by the COVID-19 pandemic have decreased sexual encounters in which STDs may spread, they have also reduced the availability and use of sexual health services,” said Susan Little, MD, an infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego Health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 20 million new cases of STDs in the United States annually.

“Due to barriers created by the pandemic and a severe stigma around STD and HIV testing, less people are getting tested and treated for these illnesses. Now that San Diego is in the red tier, it is critical that community members take stock of their sexual health,” said Gabriel Wagner, MD, an infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego Health.

The Good to Go clinic through UC San Diego School of Medicine will launch the Facts Over Fear campaign — a series of weekly, community-based virtual events to educate the public on the landscape of STDs and HIV in San Diego, and why sexual health matters more than ever before — for STD Awareness Month starting April 1.

The schedule of online events can be found at and include:

  • April 1 – Sexual Health as Self-Care with The San Diego LGBT Community Center and San Diego PRIDE
  • April 9 – The Birds and the Baes: Sexual Health for Zillennials with What A Week Podcast
  • April 16 – Sexual Health in the Era of TikTok with San Diego Youth Will as well as San Ysidro Health's CHIP program and South Bay Shababy
  • April 23 – Importance of Sexual Health for District 1 with San Diego County Supervisor Nora Vargas, "Conexiones" livestream

For more information about STDs in the San Diego region, Little and Wagner are available for interviews. Wagner is also available for Spanish media interviews.