For decades, sexually transmitted disease (STD) cases have been on the decline, due mostly to improved education and effective treatments. Unfortunately, this trend has reversed in recent years, thanks in part to an erosion in STD prevention efforts throughout numerous U.S. communities.
A Troubling Report
According to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), STD cases reached a record high in America in 2015. Appearing in the agency’s annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report, the findings showed significant rates of specific types of STDs, including:
- Over 1.5 million chlamydia cases
- Just under 400,000 cases of gonorrhea
- Almost 24,000 cases of syphilis
Primary and secondary syphilis cases represented the largest increase, rising by 19 percent. Next was gonorrhea at 13 percent, followed by chlamydia at 6 percent.
While syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia are curable with antibiotics, many infected people go undiagnosed and untreated. This puts countless other people at risk for irreversible health problems, such as chronic pain, infertility and birth defects. STDs also come with considerable economic costs; according to the CDC, U.S. STD cases cost the national healthcare system just under $16 billion annually.
In addition to these serious consequences, experts also worry the increased prevalence of STDs in the general population could give rise to more antibiotic-resistant super bugs. Gonorrhea has already developed resistance to commonly used antibiotic drugs, and the CDC warns that this trend could significantly complicate successful treatments in the future.
What Can Be Done?
According to experts, state, federal and local governments need to invest in new and existing STD prevention efforts, while ending budget cuts that have closed numerous clinics across the country. At the same time, the general public can also help by wearing condoms, staying in monogamous relationships and educating children about the serious risks of unprotected sex.
If you do show symptoms of an STD, get an evaluation. With quick treatment, you can avoid potential long-term health problems, while protecting potential partners from contracting your illness.