The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in early October that cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia reached an all time high in 2018.
The CDC’s annual sexually transmitted disease surveillance report showed that more than 115,000 cases of syphilis, 1,300 babies born with syphilis, 580,000 gonorrhea cases and 1.8 million people were infected with chlamydia during 2018.
According to the CDC, antibiotics can cure syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. However, if left untreated, STDs can be transmitted to others and produce adverse health outcomes such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and an increased HIV risk.
A 36% increase in congenital syphilis was found for women of the reproductive age from 2017 to 2018. Congenital syphilis happens when the infection is passed from mother to baby, while it is in the womb. Congenital Syphilis can lead to newborn death, miscarriage, stillbirth and serious lifelong physical and neurological problems. Texas, California, Florida, Arizona and Louisiana account for 70% of cases in the U.S. The CDC advises all pregnant women to get syphilis testing.
Primary and Secondary Syphilis rates have increased in men as well. Men accounted for 86 % of all primary and secondary syphilis cases. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with other men account for 54 % of all syphilis cases.
There are many reasons recorded for why there has been an increase in STDs. These include stigma, poverty, drug use and unstable housing like homelessness, which limits the ability to get the health resources they need. Also, an increase in budget cuts for STD programs at the state and local level. These cuts have resulted in staff layoffs and increased patient co-pays.
There has also been a decrease in condom use. Limited resources for prevention is a setback and challenge for the STD crisis. Without fast identification and preventative procedures, the number of cases will keep increasing without avail.
Young women ages 15 to 24 account for 44% of reported cases and face the most dangerous effects of these infections. STD’s can also cause infertility and ectopic pregnancy in a mother. It is estimated that undiagnosed STDs account for 20,000 reports of infertility in women each year.
The U.S. department of Health and Human Services, that includes the CDC, and partners of the federal government are developing a STI Federal Action Plan to fight against the nation’s STD epidemic. This act is planned for a 2020 release. More information can be found here.
The FC Student Health Services has many resources including, testing for HIV, STDs and pregnancy, vaccines, free condoms, birth control, health education and counseling. These are all covered by the student health fee paid during registration.
Talking openly, using condoms, getting regular check ups, screenings and education are ways to prevent the STD epidemic. Also, a rise of awareness must be spread to counter the dangerous epidemic.