According to the most recent STD surveillance report, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection, the United States is currently facing the most reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases—ever.
Between 2014 and 2015, the three most commonly reported STDs in the country—syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea—have reached an all-time high, rising by 19%, 5.9%, and 12.8%, respectively. This marks the second consecutive year that these rates have climbed, reversing previous downward trends. While the advancement of medical research and technology has the capacity to curb and treat many of these diseases and infections, there are still devastating consequences. The health outcomes of syphilis can include miscarriage, stillbirth, blindness, and stroke, while chlamydia can cause extensive damage to a woman’s reproductive system if left untreated. Research demonstrates that gonorrhea is rapidly becoming resistant to the antibiotics that once cured it.
Even more troubling are the populations that are the most at-risk, teenagers and young adults, and the lack of support they receive. In 2012, 20 health departments closed their STD clinics, and slashes to local and state budgets have further weakened the ability to support STD care and prevention programs.
Dr. Gail Bolan, Director of the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, articulated that it is evident that most Americans are not receiving the preventive services they require. In order to address the massive upsurge in STDs, Bolan recommended improving surveillance systems that collect and analyze data on new STD cases, and urging for those with new diagnoses to receive access to treatment. Moreover, she reinforced the critical importance of continuing to study the risks and complications of STDs.
Dr. Jonathan Mermin, Director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, expressed potential ways to try and reverse the epidemic, while highlighting that prevention resources are “stretched thin,” and people are beginning to “slip through the public health safety net.” Ultimately, bolstering prevention efforts and addressing new challenges will reduce health disparities and improve wellness, in addition to saving billions of dollars.
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