The authors of the report warn that women, infants, and gay and bisexual men shoulder the brunt of the burden of the STD epidemic. The following are some of the key statistics in this regard that were shared in the press release:
- Women account for nearly half of all chlamydia diagnoses
- Syphilis rates have increased by 18% from 2015 to 2016
- The majority of syphilis cases occur in gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men (MSM)
- Rates of syphilis in women have increased by 36%
- Rates of syphilis in newborns have increased by 28%
- Over 600 cases of congenital syphilis were reported in 2016, which resulted in over 40 deaths and severe health complications
- Men, mostly MSM, saw the greatest increase in gonorrhea cases (22%) since 2015
- MSM bear the greatest syphilis burden, making up the majority of cases
- Half of MSM diagnosed with syphilis were HIV-positive
Of all of the infections, congenital syphilis, in particular, is preventable through routine screening, identifying the infection in pregnant women early, and thus, providing timely treatment. Therefore, the CDC is working on strengthening the diagnosis and treatment of syphilis in pregnant women and ensuring “prompt treatment of newborns at birth in the 10 states hardest hit by congenital syphilis.”
Perhaps most alarming is the growing number of gonorrhea cases because Neisseria gonorrhoeae
have become increasingly resistant
to available antibiotics used to treat the gonorrhea infection. To address this, the CDC is working closely with state and local health departments to help provide rapid testing for resistant-gonorrhea so that health officials can provide their patients with quick—and hopefully, effective—treatment.
Taking into consideration that half of MSM who are diagnosed with syphilis also were infected with HIV, the CDC is working with state health departments and clinics to integrate STD and HIV prevention services with other care services.
According to the press release, the CDC is asking that:
- All state and local health departments channel their efforts into “STD investigation and clinical service infrastructure for rapid detection and treatment for people living in areas hardest hit by the STD epidemic.”
- Health care providers ensure that “STD screening and timely treatment [is] a standard part of medical care, especially for pregnant women and MSM,” in addition to “seamlessly” integrating STD prevention into care for those with HIV.
- Everyone should promote awareness of these diseases by engaging in an “open discussion; everyone should receive regular STD testing; everyone should be cognizant of STD risks and ways to reduce them.
The only way to quell the STD epidemic is for everyone to come together—health departments, providers, and patients alike.
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