In 2016, over 2 million cases of syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea were reported in the US alone, which is pretty much the highest number ever recorded as far as the CDC is concerned. There were 1.6 million cases of chlamydia, 470,000 cases of gonorrhea, and 28,000 cases of primary/secondary syphilis, which are the most infectious stages of this disease.
It’s almost funny how curable this notorious trifecta actually is with simple antibiotics. However, if left undetected and untreated, these infections can and will have dire health consequences, including but not limited to life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, infertility, and stillbirth. The first step to a healthier and safer life involves education about the causes of these infections, the ways they can be transmitted, and the benefits of discovering them early through simple STD testing.
What Are The Most Affected Groups?
Young women still remain the most affected group when it comes to chlamydia with almost half of all diagnosed infections. New populations are also increasingly affected by syphilis and gonorrhea.
The syphilis rate increased by almost 18% in just one year. The majority of reported cases occurred among MSMs, which includes bisexual, gay, and other men who have sex with men. On the other hand, there’s a 36% rate increase of reported syphilis among women and a 28% increase among newborns from 2015 to 2016.
This translates to over 600 occurrences of reported congenital syphilis in 2016, which caused over 40 deaths and severe health issues among newborns. This is where the story gets pretty sad once you realize this disease is completely preventable through simple routine screening and timely syphilis treatment among pregnant women.
The biggest increase in gonorrhea infections was noticed among men (22%), but women weren’t spared either. However, the biggest share of new gonorrhea infections is occurring among MSMs. We should be particularly worried about this trend since gonorrhea started showing signs of resistance to treatment.
MSMs also represents the majority of reported syphilis cases, with half of them also reporting HIV infections. This just tells us that we need to integrate HIV and STD prevention into care services in order to stop this terrifying trend.
What Can We Do?
For the moment, the CDC utilizes data obtained through STD surveillance, alongside other tools to detect and properly respond to these ever-growing threats and challenges presented on a daily basis. Resources are directed to the greatest impact points and the efforts include:
- Strengthening the risks bonds to congenital syphilis with targeted efforts to improve timely diagnosis and treatment options for pregnant women and provide prompt treatments to newborns and the 10 states that suffered the hardest hit by congenital syphilis;
- Helping local and state health departments perform rapid testing for drug-resistant gonorrhea strains and identify and treat affected individuals quickly;
- Helping health clinics and state health departments integrate STD prevention into regular care for individuals living with HIV.
Chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea are rampant in the US, and they will continue to infect more people if all the players don’t commit to stifling this alarming outbreak. These STDs affect pretty much everybody, from newborn children to grown men and women, meaning we all have our chips in this game.
We are all witnessing dire times for our public health, so we all have to work together in order to put a stop to this “3-site” epidemic. Stop hesitating and feeling uncomfortable and get tested today!