CDC: Reported STDs set record for 6th straight year

Sexually transmitted diseases continued to rise in the United States, reaching “an all-time high” for the sixth consecutive year, with more than 2.5 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis reported in 2019, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported,

“Less than 20 years ago, gonorrhea rates in the U.S. were at historic lows, syphilis was close to elimination, and advances in chlamydia diagnostics made it easier to detect infections,” said Raul Romaguera, DMD, MPH, and acting director for CDC’s Division of STD Prevention. “That progress has since unraveled, and our STD defenses are down. We must prioritize and focus our efforts to regain this lost ground and control the spread of STDs.”

The CDC’s latest data is for 2019 and provides the most recent full picture of STD trends in the United States before the COVID-19 pandemic. Early data suggest that many of these trends continued in 2020, however, when much of the country experienced major disruptions to testing and treatment services.

The newly released 2019 STD Surveillance Report found:

» 2.5 million reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, the three most commonly reported STDs in 2019.

» A nearly 30% increase in these reportable STDs between 2015 and 2019.

» The sharpest increase was in cases of syphilis among newborns (i.e., congenital syphilis), which nearly quadrupled between 2015 and 2019.

» Young people ages 15–24 make up 61% of chlamydia cases and 42% of gonorrhea cases.

In Georgia, young people ages 15-24 were 58% of all STD cases in 2019, with 54,726 STD cases, according to the state Department of Public Health’s website. Of those, 80% were chlamydia cases. Each year, African Americans make up more than 35% of youth STD cases in Georgia (2015-2019).

Rates of STDs were also higher among minorities nationwide. According to the CDC report, rates …

… for African American or Black people were 5-8 times that of non-Hispanic white people.

… for American Indian or Alaska native and native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander people were 3-5 times that of non-Hispanic white people.

… for Hispanic or Latino people were 1-2 times that of non-Hispanic white people.

The CDC also found that gay and bisexual men make up nearly half of all 2019 primary and secondary syphilis cases, and had gonorrhea rates that were 42 times that of heterosexual men in some areas.

The CDC report noted that large numbers of STD program staff — which had already seen reductions for years — were deployed to the COVID-19 response, which can lead to more delays in services

“STDs will not wait for the pandemic to end, so we must rise to the challenge now,” Romaguera said. “These new data should create a sense of urgency and mobilize the resources needed, so that future reports can tell a different story.”

You can read the full report on the CDC’s website.

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