According to a CDC report, the cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the U.S. reached levels never seen since the mid-90s. Researchers found an unprecedented surge in the numbers of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis infections across the country.
But while some states only witnessed a rise in one or two of these diseases, California experienced an increase in all three.
Federal researchers said the numbers of syphilis hit record highs, with rates unseen since the mid-90s. In just one year, numbers of syphilis infections spiked 19 percent. CDC also reported a surge in syphilis cases among gay and bisexual men. But pregnant women with the condition can pass it to their offspring as rates of congenital syphilis show.
The report also found the groups with the highest likelihood of contracting a STD are young people between ages 15 and 24, and gay and bisexual men.
In 2015, 1.5 million Americans learned they have chlamydia, marking a 6 percent increase from 2014. During the same year, gonorrhea infections rose by 400,000 new cases, marking a 13 percent rise from a year prior. Researchers noted that many of the gonorrhea infections were spotted among African-Americans.
“We have reached a decisive moment for the nation,”
CDC investigator Jonathan Mermin, MD, said in a recent interview.
Mermin explained that while STDs are on the rise many of the nation’s systems to prevent them are inoperable. He thinks the U.S. should focus on expanding and rebuilding those services. The country needs them to prevent the further growth of the “human and economic burden” of STDs.
The CDC thinks the rise in STDs may be fueled by the social stigma associated with the infections. Many patients avoid discussing the issue with their partner, family, and doctors.
Additionally, because many of these conditions do not carry obvious symptoms, many patients engage in wishful thinking and hope they would just go away. Therefore, they don’t get medical treatment, which can lead to long-term consequences such as infertility and blindness.
But other factors may be behind the rise. In recent years, there were many funding cuts, so prevention campaigns were scarce. Also, there is a so-called “Tinder effect,” with young people engaging in casual sex with strangers they met on hook-up apps such as Tinder.
California was the worst hit as it has seen a surge in all said diseases. Over the last five years, The Golden State’s gonorrhea infections nearly doubled, hitting 54,000 new cases per year in 2015.
California also struggles with a rampant epidemic of congenital syphilis. This disease affects babies born to mothers who carry the disease but had failed to get treatment. Doctors say syphilis is highly treatable and advise all wannabe moms to get screened.
Experts also recommend young people to use condoms during sexual intercourse especially if they have multiple partners. But despite recommendations, many young people fail to use them. For instance, a 2016 survey revealed 43 percent of California’s high school students do not use a condom when they’re having sex.
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