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15 Apr, 2021 16:45

America's STD rate hits record high for 6th year in a row

America's STD rate hits record high for 6th year in a row

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a grim new report confirming that sexually transmitted disease rates have hit a record high for the sixth straight year.

A whopping 2.5 million Americans had either chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis infections in 2019, according to the latest available data. Preliminary 2020 data indicates the trend continued last year as well.

Racial and ethnic minorities, gay and bisexual men, and the country’s youth were the hardest hit, according to the CDC data.

Black people had STD rates of between five and eight times higher than white people, while the rate of STDs among hispanics was one to two times higher than white people.

Gonorrhea rates were 42 times higher than average among heterosexual men in some areas of the US, while gay and bisexual men accounted for nearly half of the primary and secondary syphilis infections. 

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Chlamydia cases jumped 61% and gonorrhoea cases spiked 42% among young people aged 15 to 24, while syphilis infections among newborn babies quadrupled between 2015 and 2019. 

"Less than 20 years ago, gonorrhea rates in the U.S. were at historic lows, syphilis was close to elimination, and advances in chlamydia diagnostics made it easier to detect infections," said researcher Dr. Raul Romaguera, acting director for CDC's Division of STD Prevention, noting an almost 30% increase in these STDs between 2015 and 2019. 

Romaguera added that historical gains made in thwarting the spread of STDs have "unraveled” in recent years.

To add insult to injury, or infection as the case may be, experts fear STDs may spike due to a lack of testing as a result of the coronavirus. 

With staff redeployed to tackle the pandemic, STD screening services are now under-resourced, meaning infections will likely go unchecked, especially given that patients are often asymptomatic at least initially. 

Untreated infections can lead to increased risk of pelvic inflammatory pain, chronic pain, infertility and severe complications with future pregnancies, among other potentially disastrous consequences. 

"These new data should create a sense of urgency and mobilize the resources needed, so that future reports can tell a different story," Romaguera said, adding that, "we must rise to the challenge now."

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