Why STD Rates Are Rising

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates in the United States continue to rise at a pace that concerns health officials. Data gathered from 2013 to 2017 indicate that STD rates have increased greatly over the four year period.

In the United States, nearly 2.3 million cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis were diagnosed in 2017. Studies show that these numbers have surpassed previous records set in 2016 by more than 200,000 cases.  CDC reports show that from 2013 to 2017, gonorrhea diagnoses increased by 67%; primary and secondary syphilis diagnoses increased by 76% and chlamydia 22%.

Health officials are most concerned about these sharp increases because chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea are all diseases that were once nearly eliminated or widely controlled but now have resurged.

Several factors have contributed to the resurgence of these diseases.  There has been a rise in risky sexual practices such as sex without condoms.  Studies show this may be the result of a reduced fear of getting pregnant and less fear of the risks associated with unprotected sex.  Other factors believed to be contributors to the escalation of STD rates include:

  • The rise of certain dating apps which have made casual sexual encounters more readily available and anonymous.
  • STDs spreading in populations that were not traditionally affected. The CDC reports that more and more women are being diagnosed with syphilis and some have passed the disease on to their babies. The agency states that in 2016, “there was a 36 percent increase in rates of syphilis among women and a 28 percent increase in syphilis among newborns.”
  • A lack of education and resources to combat these new challenges. According to the CDC, there isn’t enough funding available for STD clinics or programs to provide effective prevention education and healthcare.

There is still a stigma attached to STDs and people may be reluctant to speak to their doctor about screening and treatment.  However, it is important to keep in mind that your doctor is professionally trained to assist you or provide treatment.  If you are sexually active and believe you may be at risk of exposure to STDs, it is important that you get screened regularly.  Leaving certain STDs untreated can lead to complications such as infertility, stillbirth in infants, an increased risk of HIV infection, pelvic inflammatory disease and certain cancers.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.