STDs at record high for 6th year in a row

April 15, 2021

In a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the annual cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the United States was at a record high in 2019 for the sixth year in a row.

The newly released STD Surveillance Report from 2019 discovered that the three most reported STDs were chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, which together totaled 2.5 million cases.

With nearly 30% increase in these reportable STDs between 2015 and 2019, the sharpest increase was in cases of syphilis among newborns (i.e., congenital syphilis), which nearly quadrupled between 2015 and 2019.

“Less than 20 years ago, gonorrhea rates in the U.S. were at historic lows, syphilis was close to elimination, and advances in chlamydia diagnostics made it easier to detect infections,” said Raul Romaguera, DMD, MPH, acting director for CDC’s Division of STD Prevention. “That progress has since unraveled, and our STD defenses are down. We must prioritize and focus our efforts to regain this lost ground and control the spread of STDs.”

STDs can have serious health consequences. People with these infections do not always experience disease symptoms, but, if left untreated, some can increase the risk of HIV infection, or can cause chronic pelvic pain, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, severe pregnancy and newborn complications, and infant death.

CDC’s 2019 data provide the most recent full picture of STD trends in the United States before the COVID-19 pandemic. Preliminary 2020 data suggest that many of these concerning trends continued in 2020, when much of the country experienced major disruptions to STD testing and treatment services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The burden of STDs increased overall and across many groups in 2019. But it continued to hit racial and ethnic minority groups, gay and bisexual men, and youth the hardest.

In 2019 STD rates:

·        For African American or Black people were 5-8 times that of non-Hispanic white people.

·         For American Indian or Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander people were 3-5 times that of non-Hispanic White people.

·         For Hispanic or Latino people were 1-2 times that of non-Hispanic white people.

 The study also found that gay and bisexual men make up nearly half of all 2019 primary and secondary syphilis cases. It also found that young people 15–24 years old make up 61% of chlamydia cases and 42% of gonorrhea cases.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, reductions in STD screening, treatment, prevention, and partner services contributed to STD increases for many years. Since the pandemic began, large numbers of STD program staff at the state and local level have been deployed to the COVID-19 response, which can lead to more delays in services.

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