In a major 2017 report on STDs in the United States, the CDC reported that chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis had all seen a drastic increase in cases from 2013.
The specific increases are 22%, 67%, and 76% respectively.
STD infections have continued to rise unabated.
This has caused an alarm within the health sector. Health experts are worried that Americans and local governments aren’t taking STDs seriously.
While these STDs are all bacterial, meaning they are treatable, treatment is becoming more and more difficult.
In the case of gonorrhea, things are getting critical.
Gonorrhea has grown resistant to all drugs except one.
There are also growing fears that routine STD infections are leading to long-term health effects primarily because people are not getting tested early enough.
Syphilis can cause severe problems in fetuses. In adults, it can spread to the brain and lead to death if left untreated for years.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease), which can lead to infertility in women.
Who is Most at Risk?
STIs rising fast in young people too, particularly chlamydia. In the 2017 report, 45% of reported chlamydia cases were in women aged 15 to 24.
Gay and bisexual men are also at high risk, with 70% of all reported syphilis cases occurring in this group.
Cases of congenital syphilis have also gone up among newborns, a trend that has been driven by a corresponding increase in the rise of new syphilis infections in women.
Congenital syphilis is a particularly brutal disease. It causes severe health complications in babies and often results in death.
Beyond specific groups, it seems everyone right now is at an increased risk of STIs. As long as you are sexually active, you are more likely to contract a sexually transmitted infection today than a few years ago.
What’s Causing This?
Experts have suggested several reasons.
1. People are Not Using Condoms
The good news is that condom use among men is increasing. The bad news is that the numbers are still worryingly low.
Here are the CDC statistics from a recent report.
Only 23.8% of women and 33.7% of men reported using a condom in the last 12 months.
25.8% of women in the study said that a condom was used only partially during sex in the past four weeks.
It’s encouraging the numbers are going up but not fast enough to keep up with the rising STD cases.
2. Rise of Casual Sex
The idea of casual sex among strangers or acquaintances is not frowned upon as much today as it was a year ago.
If anything, dating apps like Grindr and Tinder have come up to facilitate it.
While there isn’t concrete proof that casual sex and dating apps have contributed to rising STI cases, many experts think these apps are a major reason behind the rising STIs.
The rise of casual sex combined with low numbers of condom use is not a good recipe.
3. Inadequate and Late Testing
While more people are getting tested for STIs, party thanks to a rise of confidential STD testing services, the number of tests is still low compared to the number of STI cases.
Experts say, people, especially those at high risk, need to get tested more frequently.
Late testing is also a big problem. Successful treatment of STDs depends on early diagnosis and treatment.
4. Less Funding
At a time when local health services should be stepping up their efforts to deal with rising cases of STIs, many cities are seeing a cutback instead.
This has affected STD testing, treatment, and educational services.
How to Protect Yourself
If you are sexually active, CDC recommends frequent STD screening. You no longer have to go to a doctor or clinic to get tested, in case you are embarrassed.
These days you can order a test online or buy an at-home test kit.
I recommend STDCheck.com.
They provide confidential and affordable online testing. Once you place an order online, they’ll ask you to go to a nearby lab where you’ll anonymously give a sample.
Results will be ready in 1-2 days, and you can access them in your secure online STDCheck account.
Even if you are in a stable relationship, it’s still a good idea to get screened 1-2 times a year.
In addition to testing, practice other commonsense protective measures.
- Unless you are in a mutually monogamous relationship, use a condom every time you have sex.
- Also, use a condom or a dental dam when engaging in oral sex.
- Do not have multiple sexual partners at the same time as it increases your risk of getting an STD.