In troubling public health news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported just yesterday that combined cases of gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia in the U.S. have climbed to the highest number on record.

With the release of its “Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2015” report, the agency documented more than 1.5 million cases of chlamydia, nearly 400,000 cases of gonorrhea and about 24,000 cases of primary and secondary syphilis. Syphilis clocked the largest increase from 2014 to 2015 at 19 percent, gonorrhea increased by nearly 13 percent and chlamydia rose by nearly 6 percent. In a CDC news release about the report, the agency was quick to point out that more than half of state and local sexually transmitted disease (STD) programs have absorbed budget cuts in recent years, with more than 20 public health STD clinics having to shut their doors in the space of just one year.

“We have reached a decisive moment for the nation,” said Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, in an agency news release. “STD rates are rising and many of the country’s systems for preventing STDs have eroded. We must mobilize, rebuild and expand services — or the human and economic burden will continue to grow.”

According to the new CDC report, cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea continue to be the highest among young people ages 15 to 24, with women facing the most serious long-term consequences of STD infection. Overall, young people as well as gay and bisexual men faced the highest risk of contracting an STD. In fact, men account for more than 90 percent of all primary and secondary cases of syphilis, with men who have sex with men accounting for 82 percent of male cases in which the sex of the sexual partner is known, CDC reported. CDC also noted “troubling” increases in syphilis among newborns. Untreated syphilis can lead to visual impairment, miscarriage, stillbirth and stroke.

Also in 2015, the report found that Americans ages 15 to 24 accounted for nearly two-thirds of chlamydia cases and half of gonorrhea infections; men who have sex with men accounted for the majority of new gonorrhea cases as well as primary and secondary syphilis cases; and the rate of women being diagnosed with syphilis increased more than 27 percent in 2014-2015, with the rate of babies being born with syphilis up 6 percent as well. Babies born with congenital syphilis can experience serious health problems, such as deformed bones, severe anemia, blindness or meningitis.

“STD prevention resources across the nation are stretched thin, and we’re beginning to see people slip through the public health safety net,” Mermin said. “Turning the STD epidemics around requires bolstering prevention efforts and addressing new challenges — but the payoff is substantial in terms of improving health, reducing disparities and saving billions of dollars.”

In response to the new report, the National Coalition of STD Directors noted that members of the U.S. Senate are considering a $5 million cut to state and local STD program funding. The coalition called on policymakers to increase such funding by $8.1 million in the 2017 federal budget.

CDC noted that STDs cost the country about $16 billion in medical care every year. For a copy of “Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2015,” visit CDC.

Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for nearly 15 years.

Comments

  1. #1 See Noevo
    October 21, 2016

    “CDC: Cases of sexually transmitted diseases reach highest number ever…
    the country’s systems for preventing STDs have eroded. We must mobilize, rebuild and expand services — or the human and economic burden will continue to grow.”

    Sounds like a call for more taxpayer money.
    How much taxpayer money was spent on “systems for preventing STDs” in recent years?

    How does that compare to how much taxpayer money was spent on “systems for preventing STDs” when the cases of sexually transmitted diseases were the LOWEST number ever?
    …………………
    “…men account for more than 90 percent of all primary and secondary cases of syphilis, with men who have sex with men accounting for 82 percent of male cases…”

    It’s too bad we can’t sue someone for discrimination on sexual orientation grounds. Shouldn’t we have equality across all sexual orientations in the incidence of STDs?
    We can’t sue Mother Nature, can we?

  2. #2 SteveP
    October 22, 2016

    I suppose that when you aren’t able to manage your own money very successfully, the concept of paying taxes for things like public health services seems like a real nuisance. Mr. blind-to-reality and his idiot crowd apparently want a tax free paradise. One with sewage running through the streets, overflowing cess pools on every street, polluted rivers, contaminated drinking water, and choking air. One where the lord of the manor can take his liberties with any woman that attracts him. A world where bronze age social “virtues” a.k.a., superstitions, are held to be more valuable tools than science.
    Mr. blind-to-reality haunts the pages of science blogs looking to broadcast his pea brained ideas to the public when he should instead be employing his meager intellect to find a way to make enough money to pay his taxes. And perhaps he should also ponder why anybody with an IQ higher than their body temperature doesn’t want to encourage a silver spoon “billionaire” whose philosophy( or lack thereof) is very apt to turn the world into Mogadishu.

  3. #3 dean
    United States
    October 24, 2016

    “Mr. blind-to-reality haunts the pages of science blogs looking to broadcast his pea brained ideas to the public when he should instead be employing his meager intellect to find a way to make enough money to pay his taxes. ”

    It isn’t that. sn has gone on record on other blogs (from which he is now banned) proclaiming that
    * people are poor because they deserve to be poor
    * the only purpose for women is to have babies and so they should not speak about anything else
    * people who are neither his religion nor his race should not be given the same rights he has in the US (it’s a white christian nation dontya know)
    * And about science in general, nobody should spend any time or money on researching a topic unless there is already a known application for it

    It isn’t the money that motivates sn, it’s the fact that his world view is appropriate for hundreds of years ago rather than a time like the present – this civilization thing is just getting in his way.

  4. #4 JustaTech
    October 25, 2016

    And then there’s the time sn said (on this very blog) that other people using birth control injures *him*, because he believes that it is immoral.

    So shouldn’t sn be thrilled by this uptick in STIs, because it means people aren’t using condoms?