I talk about sex everyday – from contraception to safe sex and beyond. In my practice, I routinely counsel and screen my patients to decrease their risk of developing an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) also known as STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease). Well, given that April is STI Awareness Month, I wanted to share some alarming statistics with you about today’s rate of STIs in the United States.
The sad truth is that most STD cases go undiagnosed and untreated when a simple course of antibiotics could cure the infection. Because of the lack of treatment, potentially preventable health conditions such as infertility, chronic pain and risk for HIV are increased. Those facing the highest risk of contracting an STD are young adults (15-24 years of age), and gay and bisexual men. Since many are not receiving the preventative services they need – they’re not getting tested and not getting treated – Ultimately leading to greater health care costs and health concerns.
According to the 2015 Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report released by the CDC, the rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis have reached an all-time high.
- 1.5 million cases of chlamydia ( 5.9% increase)
- 4 percent of reported cases are over the age of 40
- 12 percent of reported cases are between the ages of 30-39
- 18 percent of reported cases are between the ages of 25-29
- 39 percent of reported cases are between the ages of 20-24
- 26 percent of reported cases are between the ages of 15-19
- Approximately 400,000 cases of gonorrhea ( 12.8% increase)
- 10 percent of reported cases are over the age of 40
- 18 percent of reported cases are between the ages of 30-39
- 21 percent of reported cases are between the ages of 25-29
- 32 percent of reported cases are between the ages of 20-24
- 18 percent of reported cases are between the ages of 15-19
- Nearly 24, 000 cases of syphilis. (19% increase) and 15–44 years accounted for 79.6% of reported syphilis cases with known age.
Factors Leading to an Increase in Sexually Transmitted Diseases
- Slash in funding. Public health and STD awareness is only as strong as the infrastructure to support it. According to the CDC, more than half of the state and local STD programs have been slashed by 50%. Unfortunately, federal funds have not made up for many of the budget cuts at the local level. In fact, there have been no increases in federal funding for STD programs since 2003. And as we see in today’s political climate with regard to public health and education, there won’t be any increases for a while.
- The “Tinder Effect.” Mobile apps such as Tinder have made it easier for many men and women to “hook up” and they may not necessarily be thinking about preventing STIs. Initially, Tinder denied a link between its dating and casual sexual encounter app and the surge in STDs. But after an AIDS advocacy group called them out on this, they have added a link to a locator for free STD testing via Healthvana.com.
Some more startling facts:
- Young adults are at the highest risk: Nearly 2/3 of cases of chlamydia and ½ cases of gonorrhea are diagnosed in 15-24 year olds.
- 90% of cases of primary and secondary syphilis occur in men.
- More anti-biotic resistance is being seen with gonorrhea – especially among men having sex with men (MSM)
- Syphilis can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, blindness and stroke.
- From 2014-2015, there has been a 27 % increase in women being diagnosed with syphilis. Reports on congenital syphilis (infection is transmitted from pregnant woman to her baby) show increased by 6%.
Ways to Decrease Your Risk of a Sexually Transmitted Disease
These are some of my recommendations:
- Get educated.
- Get tested.
- Get treatment.
- Practice Safe Sex and Mutual Monogamy.
- Talk to your children about safe sex – the age of sexually activity is getting younger and younger. A little knowledge can go a long way.
These recommendations are taken from the CDC website:
- If you are sexually active, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about STD testing and which tests may be right for you.
- Women: If you are a sexually active woman younger than 25, or have risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners, you should request annual chlamydia and gonorrhea tests.
- If you are a pregnant woman, you should request syphilis, HIV, chlamydia, and hepatitis B tests early in your pregnancy.
- If you have new or multiple sex partners, you should also request gonorrhea testing
- If you are a sexually active man who is gay, bisexual, or has sex with men, you should request tests for syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV at least once a year.
- More frequent STD testing is recommended for men at high risk.
Let’s do our best to reverse these staggering statistics and decrease Sexually Transmitted Infections!
In Health & Wellness,