STD Rates Continue to Rise in the US

Henrietta Strickland
October 9, 2019

United States infections from three sexually transmitted diseases have risen for the fifth consecutive year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Tuesday.

According to the data, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia cases are continuing to increase throughout California and are at the highest levels in 30 years.

"Underlying drivers of the increases of STDs relate to a complex web of social factors", the report read.

A new government report finds that combined cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia reached an all-time high in 2018. But the problem begins earlier, with young US women contracting syphilis at an ever-higher rate in recent years. Cases of gonorrhea increased 211% to 79,397.

In 2018, there were an astounding 35,000 confirmed cases of the disease.

In 2018, there were 25,344 cases of syphilis reported in the state, a 265% increase from 10 years ago.

"STDs can come at a high cost for babies and other vulnerable populations", said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. Add to that recent cuts to state and local STD programs, resulting in clinic closures and less screening and patient follow-up. Congenital syphilis has increased 185% since 2014 to 1,306 cases.

Pregnant women with syphilis can pass the infection to the fetus they're carrying.

Babies with congenital syphilis are at risk of premature birth and low birth weights. The rate rose 5 percent.

And those that survive may have brain and nervous system problems, skeletal defects and low blood counts.

"The resurgence of syphilis, and particularly congenital syphilis, is not an arbitrary event, but rather a symptom of a deteriorating public health infrastructure and lack of access to health care", Gail Bolan, the CDC's director of STD Prevention, said in the report.

'This goes beyond data and surveillance, beyond numbers and calculations - we lost 94 lives before they even began to an entirely preventable infection'. Congenital syphilis can be fatal to infants: there were 22 stillbirths or neonatal deaths in 2018. Yet five states were disproportionately burdened with the majority (70%) of cases. Young people and gay and bisexual men are using condoms less, in part because pre-exposure prophylaxis medications that can prevent HIV transmission are more broadly available.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

Discuss This Article