October 08, 2019
Sexually transmitted diseases are rising at alarming rates in the United States, according to new data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A record 2.46 million infections were diagnosed in 2018, marking the fifth consecutive year the record has been broken. The most common infection was chlamydia, with a record 1.7 million reported cases.
Among the most alarming threats reported in the new data was that newborn baby deaths from syphilis increased by 22% from 77 in 2017 to 94 in 2018. These deaths coincided with an increase of congenital syphilis, in which the infection is passed from mother to child during pregnancy.
The CDC is now recommending healthcare providers test all pregnant women for syphilis during their first prenatal visit. That allows treatment to begin immediately, if necessary.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human services is developing a Sexually Transmitted Infections Federal Action Plan, which will be released in 2020, to address the "urgent" STD epidemic, the CDC reported.
Gonorrhea and syphilis also increased significantly last year, according to the CDC. There were 583,405 reported cases of gonorrhea, a staggering 63% increase since 2014. Primary and secondary syphilis cases surpassed 35,000, a 71% increase since 2014.
Antibiotics can cure syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. But if left untreated, STDs can be transmitted to others and can cause infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and increased HIV risk, according to the CDC.
The increases seen in recent years may be linked to drug use, poverty, stigma or unstable housing, which may reduce accessibility to resources and STD care, according to the report. Additionally, cuts to STD programs have caused clinic closures, reduced screenings, staff loss, and increased patient co-pays.