The latest research shows a shocking rise in the cases of sexually transmitted diseases across the United States. According to the last year estimate of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the total number of gonorrhoea, syphilis and Chlamydia soared very high in the United States, including an alarming rise in the number of newborn deaths due to congenital syphilis.
In the new edition of the CDC’s annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report, there is more than 2.4 million gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis infections were reported in 2018 in the United States whereas there is a disturbing increase of more than 100,000 cases from the last year.
Chlamydia, the most common STD accounted for 1.7 million of the total cases, the highest number which is ever recorded in a year by the CDC. Gonorrhoea accounted for almost 500,000 cases, the highest number since 1991. For syphilis, the total number of infections stands at 115,000, also the highest ever since 1991.
All these three most common sexually transmitted diseases can be effectively treated with antibiotics but the medical consequences of these STDs being left untreated can be disastrous. People who are left untreated with STDs are not only at risk for infecting other but also vulnerable to the wide range of medical disorders including ectopic pregnancy, infertility and increased HIV risk. When syphilis proceeds to its tertiary stage, it can cause severe neurological problems in the older adults whereas congenital syphilis passed from mothers to their babies during pregnancy which results in miscarriage, newborn death, stillbirth and severe lifelong neurological and physical problems.
So the question is why are the rates of STDs are increasing to a disturbing level after reaching the historic lows between the year 2001 and 2009. A recent commentary which is published in the journal Health Psychology shares some of the reasons for this alarming rise in STDs cases and future predictions. It is written by Angela D. Bryan of the University of Colorado Boulder and Sarah W. Feldstein Ewing of the Oregon Health and Science University.
The commentary says that adolescents and youngsters represent half of the new cases and minority youths seem more vulnerable. In exploring the actual reasons behind this upswing in the new sexually transmitted cases, the researchers view it as a natural progression of the change in the sexual education policies over the last two decades.
The alterations in abstinence-based sex education highlighted the vulnerability of minority groups which includes sexual and racial minorities. While organizations like Planned Parenthood continue funding the evidence-based programs for sex education with a proven record of success, religious and political opposition remains strong in various part of the country.
Men who have sex with the same gender are not only vulnerable towards HIV but they are also at an increased risk for gonorrhoea. Young women, particularly from the lower socioeconomic groups, are showing the increased cases of chlamydia.
This sharp rise in the number of sexually transmitted diseases is not an issue which will go away on its own. It will not only cause financial burdens for dealing with untreated cases but it will have a long-term impact including ectopic pregnancies, infertilities, elevated risk of HIV and congenital damage, will stay with our generations to come.