The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting the number of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are increasing at an “alarming rate” in the U.S., particularly in young adults.
In a report by the CDC, STD cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis all went up in 2014. Cases of chlamydia, the most common infection, has climbed to unprecedented levels, according to government officials.
Chlamydia cases totaled 1.4 million last year or 454 per 100,000 people. While this is only a 2.8 percent increase over 2013, it was the highest number of cases ever reported to the agency.
Total reported 2014 cases of gonorrhea were 350,062, a five percent increase over 2013. Meanwhile, syphilis reported cases were up 15 percent, to 20,000 cases. The CDC says the syphilis rates were highest among gay and bisexual men.
Dr. Jonathan Mermin with the CDC believes the rising rates of STDs should be a wakeup call for action. “America’s worsening STD epidemic is a clear call for better diagnosis, treatment, and prevention,” he commented.
Most At Risk For STDs
While men are largely responsible for the overall increase of all three STDs, women and young adults are the most at risk. The CDC recommends annual screenings, but the agency also encourages sexual health and STD education for women and young people.
Fox News reports that STDs gonorrhea and chlamydia were more widespread among 15- to 24-year-olds than previously thought. Nearly two-thirds of all chlamydia and gonorrhea reported cases were within this age group. Before the CDC report, disease experts believed young people only got about half of the 20 million newly diagnosed STDs each year.
Often, these STDs have no symptoms, so many infected young people never get tested and the disease goes undetected. This is especially problematic for women younger than 25, who can develop severe reproductive difficulties, including infertility, if an STD goes untreated.
Director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, Dr. Gail Bolan, thinks fewer available treatment centers may be partially to blame.
“About 7 percent of health departments have closed STD clinics. Over 40 percent have reduced clinic hours, and clinics have increased fees and co-pays. We are concerned that people are not getting access to the STD health services they deserve and need.”
Fred Wyand, spokesperson for the American Sexual Health Association, seems to agree.
“One key finding is the worrisome and continuing trend of health disparities. Young people are more biologically susceptible to STDs and also often lack health insurance or the empowerment necessary to effectively navigate the health care system.”
He went on to say that condom use coupled with increased access to testing and treatment would be a sustainable solution to the rising sexually transmitted disease rates.
CDC Can’t Link STDs To Dating Apps
In September, The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) launched a campaign aimed at young adults. According to the Daily Mail, the drive emphasized the danger of catching STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea during casual sex. The organization suggested the rise of these diseases paralleled the growing trend of dating smartphone apps like Tinder and Grindr.
In a related report from the Inquisitr, Tinder and Grindr were outraged by the awareness campaign. In a billboard sponsored by the AHF, it was hinted the dating apps caused STD infections. The companies sent a letter to the AHF demanding their names be removed.
— Boing Boing (@BoingBoing) September 28, 2015
The CDC may have fortified the position of the dating apps. In the report, the agency stated that there is no specific link between the apps and STDs. The agency simply says these diseases are complicated and there is no exact answer as to why rates are increasing.
An estimated $16 billion is spent annually on treatment of STDs. Many believe, including the CDC, that prevention programs could potentially bring that number down.
Additionally, people should take preventative measures to protect themselves. To lower the risk of STDs, the CDC recommends taking steps to avoid being infected, including regular condom use and careful selection of sex partners.
The CDC tracks a group of more than 70 diseases which include STDs, measles, chickenpox, and tuberculosis.
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