Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are reporting more cases of sexually transmitted diseases than ever before in the United States.
According to CNN, “Reported cases of primary and secondary syphilis rose by 19 percent, gonorrhea cases rose by 12.8 percent, and chlamydia cases rose by 5.9 percent from 2014. All three STDs are curable with antibiotics, but most infections go undiagnosed and untreated, according to the CDC.”
Dr. Jonathan Mermin said, “STD rates are rising, and many of the country’s systems for preventing STDs have eroded,” he said. “We must mobilize, rebuild and expand services — or the human and economic burden will continue to grow.”
Syphilis made a resurgence with gay and bisexual men as the primary targets. Congenital syphilis in infants whose mothers transferred the disease also rose.
Dr. Gail Bolan writes, “The resurgence of congenital syphilis and the increasing impact of syphilis among gay and bisexual men makes it clear that many Americans are not getting the preventive services they need. Every pregnant woman should be tested for syphilis, and sexually active gay and bisexual men should be tested for syphilis at least once a year.”
Political campaigns leveraging the defunding of centers like Planned Parenthood could be contributing to this lack of affordable screening access.
Young patients aged 15 to 24 years old made up almost two-thirds of last year’s chlamydia diagnoses — and half of all gonorrhea diagnoses.
“There were 395,216 reported cases of gonorrhea last year, and the STD has become progressively difficult to treat. Scientists at the CDC warned in July that the bacterium that causes gonorrhea, called Neisseria gonorrhoeae, is developing resistance to the antibiotic drugs used to treat it,” CNN reports.
What can we do? Given the high rates of young people getting STDs, starting with comprehensive sex education that includes teaching students about the use of condoms and contraception is a start.
It has been proven over and over again that abstinence-only sex education programs do not work. They are not effective at preventing pregnancy, and as evidenced by the CDC’s findings, do not prevent young people from contracting STDs.
Dr. Bolan also has ideas to create change. “To reverse the STD epidemic, we should all learn to talk more openly about STDs — with our partners, parents, and providers,” she said.
Remember to be safe! Get tested to avoid becoming part of this disturbing statistical trend.