The Rise of STDs In U.S. Sets New Record

Experts say many factors have contributed to the rapid rise, though the biggest one may be less frequent condom use.

Combined diagnoses of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis have increased sharply over the past five years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that nearly 2.3 million cases were diagnosed in the U.S. in 2017, surpassing the record set in 2016 by more than 200,000. Dr. Gail Bolan, director of the Division of STD Prevention at the CDC, states “We have seen steep and sustained increases over the last five years. Usually, there are ebbs and flows, but this sustained increase is very concerning. We haven’t seen anything like this for two decades.” The executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, David Harvey, reports that the United States “continues to have the highest STD rates in the industrialized world.” There are various factors affecting the rise of STDs, such as declines in funding, extreme lack of awareness about STDs and sexual health, doctors not screening and tests for these diseases, antibiotic-resistant strains, and many others that are being taken into account.

Scientists believe that the lifesaving HIV medications that became available in the 2000’s have had the unintended consequence of driving an increase in other STDs not just in gay and bisexual men, but also in heterosexuals. Charlotte Gaydos, a professor of medicine at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, tells NBC News that “Part of the problem is that people are not afraid of dying from HIV now so they are less likely to use condoms, and they are more likely to have multiple partners.” Dating apps, such as Tinder, have also been linked to the increase of STDs because it makes finding partners more accessible and most often they’re complete strangers. Bolan states, “STDs are widespread and cross urban and rural boundaries. They cross socioeconomic boundaries. We’re seeing STDs in places we haven’t seen them before.” STDs can be asymptomatic, meaning showing no symptoms, so the CDC recommends that sexually active people under the age of 25 get tested whether they have symptoms or not. New rapid STD tests that are in clinical trials may make a difference since doctors can then treat patients before they leave the clinic and that will prevent further spreading. Visit this site to learn more about STD testing. 

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