STD Cases In The US Reached A Grim New High In 2017

Henrietta Brewer
August 30, 2018

Cases of chlamydia increased by almost seven percent, primary and secondary syphilis cases rose by more than ten percent, and gonorrhea cases soared by almost 19 percent over the past year, according to the CDC data.

"Sadly, it's not a surprising trend", said Rob Stephenson, a professor and director of the Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities at the University of MI in Ann Arbor, who was not involved in the new CDC research.

It marks the fourth consecutive year of sharp increases in STDs, the CDC said.

Primary and secondary syphilis, of which there were 30,644 diagnoses in 2017, represented a 76 percent increase. It's less clear whether dating apps, like Tinder, have contributed in some way to the spread of STDs, though some researchers think they have.

SOURCES: David Harvey, executive director, National Coalition of STD Directors; Gail Bolan, M.D., director, CDC's Division of STD Prevention; Michael Fraser, Ph.D., executive director, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials; Aug. 28, 2018, presentation/media briefing, 2018 STD Prevention Conference, Washington, D.C. This figure was boosted by a 45 percent increase among 15-24-year-old females.

But Fraser pointed out that the solution to the rising STD problem is not going to be "treating our way out of it", and that a solid public health infrastructure is also needed.

"We maintain our bridges and roads, and we see them on TV when they crumble".

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

New CDC findings released today, however, show that emerging resistance to azithromycin is now on the rise in laboratory testing - with the portion of samples that showed emerging resistance to azithromycin increasing from 1 percent in 2013 to more than 4 percent in 2017. Around 70 percent of the cases featured gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. According to the Texas Health and Human Services STD Surveillance Report, in 2009 Brazos County saw and treated 885 cases of Chlamydia.

More women are also getting syphilis and unknowingly passing it on to their babies, a 2017 CDC report found.

When diagnosed, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are curable with antibiotics. While she added that there has never been a "confirmed treatment failure" when using this recommended treatment, the worry is there may eventually be a strain of gonorrhea that does not respond to ceftriaxone. "We can't let our defenses down - we must continue reinforcing efforts to rapidly detect and prevent resistance as long as possible".

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