According to the recent
2015 Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are on the rise and systems of prevention have eroded. Currently, there are 20 million new STDs in the United States every year; approximately half of these infections are found in young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years. There are more than 110 million new and existing infections across the US at any given time. Many cases continue to go undiagnosed.
In a recent article
, Jonathan Mermin, MD, MPH, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, said, “We have reached a decisive moment for the nation. We must mobilize, rebuild and expand services -- or the human and economic burden will continue to grow.”
There were an estimated 1.5 million case of chlamydia in 2015, an increase, according the surveillance report, of almost 6% since 2014. Meanwhile, cases of syphilis, both primary and secondary, increased by 19%, and cases of Gonorrhea increased by approximately 13% since 2014. Contributing to this was a rise in infections among men “across all diseases,” the report said. However, the data only captures a small part of the burden STDs have had in the United States. To date, infections from human papillomavirus, herpes simplex virus, and trichomoniasis go unreported to the CDC.
Young individuals as well as gay and bisexual men face the greatest risk of contracting STDs. There have also been “troubling increases” in rates of syphilis among newborns. Through a CDC media release
, Gail Bolan, MD, director of the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention said, “The health outcomes of syphilis – miscarriage, stillbirth, blindness or stroke – can be devastating.” He continued, “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.”
However, as Dr. Mermin pointed out, prevention resources specifically targeting STD rates across the United States are being “stretched thin”. Both state and local STD programs have had their budgets cut, causing closures of more than 20 STD clinics in 2015 alone. This means people are losing access to preventative services and slipping through the cracks of the public health system. The CDC recommends state and local health departments direct resources to those most affected by this recent epidemic. They are also asking providers to make STD screening a standard part of patient care, especially among pregnant women.
The CDC provides
testing and treatment guidelines so healthcare professionals can provide individuals with effective care. Parents and the public at large need to speak openly about STD transmission and testing. The CDC recommends parents and providers, “Offer young people safe, effective ways to access needed information and services.” It is critical that public and private healthcare providers, along with local leaders, promote STD prevention education in their communities.
To stay informed on the latest in infectious disease news and developments, please sign up for our weekly newsletter.