By William Johnson
The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) this week released its annual figures for the spread of key sexually transmitted infections (STDs).
Not including HIV rates (reported separately), it reports a rise in STDs across the US for a third year in a row. Gay and bisexual men remain one of the groups disproportionately affected. This was particularly true in the case of syphilis.
Key findings include:
In its report, CDC researchers speculate that the rise in STD rates among men who have sex with men could be partly due to a rise in condom less sex. It says that stigma and discrimination can also lead to gay and bisexual men to engage in riskier sexual behavior.
Commenting on the statistics, Dr. Gail Bolan, of the CDC, said, ‘Not that long ago, gonorrhea rates were at historic lows, syphilis was close to elimination, and we were able to point to advances in STD prevention, such as better chlamydia diagnostic tests and more screening, contributing to increases in detection and treatment of chlamydial infections. That progress has since unraveled.
‘The number of reported syphilis cases is climbing after being largely on the decline since 1941, and gonorrhea rates are now increasing. This is especially concerning given that we are slowly running out of treatment options.’
In recent years, cases of gonorrhea showing greater resistance to antibiotic treatment have begun to emerge.
‘It is imperative that federal, state, and local programs employ strategies that maximize long-term population impact by reducing STD incidence and promoting sexual, reproductive, maternal, and infant health,’ continued Bolan.
One of Bolan’s colleagues, Dr. Jonathan Mermi of CDC, went further: ‘Increases in STDs are a clear warning of a growing threat. STDs are a persistent enemy, growing in number, and outpacing our ability to respond.’