Despite decades of sexual education and STD awareness campaigns, the rates at which new STD cases are reported continues to rise. A new bulletin by the CDC paints a particularly dire picture of sexual health in the United States, with some diseases reaching levels not seen for almost 20 years, and others reaching legitimate all-time highs.
The CDC’s report is based on data from 2017 to 2018, and it shows a shocking number of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia cases across the nation. The data reveals over 115,000 syphilis cases in that time period and over 580,000 cases of gonorrhea, neither of which have seen levels this high since 1991. Chlamydia? Well, that’s a whole other story.
The CDC says that an increase of around 3% in chlamydia cases nationwide puts the total number at over 1.7 million, which is the highest it’s ever been.
Of the three illnesses, syphilis has seen the most dramatic gains. Chlamydia’s 3% increase and gonorrhea’s 5% increase both pale in comparison to the incredible 14% spike seen for syphilis. Even worse, the rate of syphilis infections among newborns jumped up a whopping 40% compared to the previous year.
Babies who contract syphilis from their mothers are at an incredible risk. Stillbirth and newborn death are both legitimate risks for expecting mothers who have syphilis, and even if the baby survives, it may face serious developmental issues.
“There are tools available to prevent every case of congenital syphilis,” CDC’s Gail Bolan, M.D. explains. “Testing is simple and can help women to protect their babies from syphilis – a preventable disease that can have irreversible consequences.”
The CDC highlights a number of things that are feeding into the rise of STDs, including decreased use of condoms among young people. Combine that with risk factors such as drug use and poverty, as well as reductions in STD awareness programs at both the state and local levels across the US, and you have a recipe for record-breaking STD numbers.