STDs Set New Record in US

FREDERIC J. BROWN via Getty Images

Cases of gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia all increased in 2017, making it the fourth straight year in which STD infections continued to rise.

Americans are crawling with chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, according to a report that reveals a record-high spike in cases of sexually transmitted disease. Nearly half of chlamydia cases were in girls and women ages 15 to 24.

"We are sliding backward", said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H, director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.

"It is evident the systems that identify, treat, and ultimately prevent STDs are strained to near-breaking point".

"The United States continues to have the highest STD rates in the industrialized world", said David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors.

Primary and secondary syphilis, of which there were 30,644 diagnoses in 2017, represented a 76 percent increase.

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CDC funding for prevention efforts has hovered around $157 million for the past 18 years, Harvey said.

Over the years, gonorrhea has become resistant to almost every class of antibiotics used to treat it, except to ceftriaxone, the only remaining highly effective antibiotic to treat gonorrhea in the United States. The U.S.'s rate of new STD cases has been trending upward for some time now, with each of the past four years resulting in "steep and sustained" increases, according to the CDC.

Most STDs go undiagnosed and untreated, the CDC said, which can cause infertility, stillbirth and an increased risk of HIV.

Diagnosed cases of gonorrhea increased 67 percent from 333,004 to 555,608 and almost doubled among men, rising from 169,130 to 322,169.

"Doctors are not screening and testing for STDs, and patients don't know they need to ask for that screening and treatment", he said at the briefing. Gonorrhea is of particular concern to health experts because it is on the verge of becoming untreatable. "That means state and local health departments are working with budgets that are effectively half what they were 15 years ago".

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis can be cured with antibiotics.

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