STDs Soar to All-Time Highs in United States

By Victor Westerkamp

For the fourth consecutive year, the number of people contracting the top three sexually transmitted diseases in the United States has risen, prompting concerns from doctors.

According to the newly released 2018 STD Surveillance Report, the three most common infectious venereal diseases are chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, which can result in infertility, insanity, and even death, especially among the most vulnerable.

Chlamydia has gone up to 1.8 million cases, a 19 percent increase since 2014; gonorrhea rose to 583,405 cases (the highest number since 1991), equaling a 63 percent increase since 2014; and there were 35,063 cases of primary and secondary syphilis, a 71 percent increase since 2014.

With syphilis, 1,306 cases involved congenital syphilis, a 185 percent increase since 2014. Congenital syphilis is transmitted from mother to newborn child. It is perfectly curable if it’s detected in time, but if it goes unnoticed for too long it may lead to the child’s death. In 2018, 94 child deaths were reported; a rise of 40 percent in comparison to 2017, when 77 child-deaths were reported.

“All of those cases could have been prevented if pregnant women had been treated appropriately and in a timely way prior to delivery,” Elizabeth Torrone, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) epidemiologist said, according to CNN. “We really need to make sure that all pregnant women are screened at their first prenatal care visit, treated appropriately and that their partners are treated so that we prevent reinfection.”

About the top three diseases, Torrone said, “Combined they total 2.4 million infections that were diagnosed and reported just in the last year alone.” It represents the highest recorded number of STDs in America since the monitoring began, the outlet reported.

Additionally, gonorrhea is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. The only recommended treatment is a shot of the antibiotic ceftriaxone, plus the oral antibiotic azithromycin, but even then, in some cases the bug stays unaffected.

Dr. Mark Mulligan, chief of infectious diseases at NYU Langone Health in New York, who was not involved in the CDC report, told CNN, “With gonorrhea in particular we have a real threat with drug resistance.”

“For most gonorrhea, we’re down to a single drug and if we lose that it could potentially become untreatable,” Mulligan added. “One need is to develop new antimicrobials for resistant organisms like gonorrhea. Another need or another strategy to combat the much broader problem of antimicrobial resistance is using vaccines to try to prevent the infections and therefore reduce the impact of drug resistance.”

Possible explanations for the steep rise are the increased number of testings done and subsequently more cases reported; decrease in condom usage; and shrinking financial resources, according to CNN.