The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released alarming new data about the rise in sexually transmitted diseases.
In a preliminary report from the agency, researchers found that nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis were diagnosed in the United States in 2017, an increase of around 200,000 cases from the previous year.
“We are sliding backward,” said Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “It is evident the systems that identify, treat, and ultimately prevent STDs are strained to near-breaking point.”
According to the CDC’s analysis, gonorrhea diagnoses have risen by 67 percent since 2013, primary and secondary syphilis cases are up a whopping 76 percent, and chlamydia remains the most common STD reported to health officials, with 1.7 million cases diagnosed in 2017.
Even more alarming? Nearly half — 45 percent — of chlamydia diagnoses occurred in young women ages 15- to 24-year-old.
While all three diseases are treatable with antibiotics and early detection, many people never realize they’re infected, which could lead to a host of health issues. Infertility, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, and increased HIV risk are just a few of the adverse effects of untreated STDs.
Though it’s unclear why STD rates have continued to rise for the last four years, previous research has shown that inadequate access to healthcare, poverty, discrimination, and drug use may be a factor.
The rise in sexually transmitted infections is distressing, but what has American clinicians even more worried is that gonorrhea is becoming increasingly resistant to current treatment methods.
“We expect gonorrhea will eventually wear down our last highly effective antibiotic, and additional treatment options are urgently needed,” said Gail Bolan, director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention. “We can’t let our defenses down — we must continue reinforcing efforts to rapidly detect and prevent resistance as long as possible.”
The best way to prevent the spread of STDs is to get tested, practice safe sex, and seek immediate treatment if you encounter a disease.