Gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia reached the highest peak in 2018, announced the CDC.
These are troubling news since countless babies are dying in vain, stated Dr. Gail Bolan, director of Division of STD prevention in the U.S. Based on the latest records, there was a 22% rise in infant deaths, 94 cases recorded compared to the 77 in 2017.
In other words, 94 lives have been lost to a completely avoidable disease. Here is why the cases have been steadily increasing and how to stop the spread.
STD Global Statistics
In 2018, gonorrhea cases peaked at 580,000, which is 5% more than the ones recorded the year prior. Unfortunately, these are the biggest numbers registered since 1991. However, gonorrhea was not the only infection that skyrocketed in just two decades, Chlamydia quickly managed to keep up.
In the same year, there were 1.7 million chlamydia infections, 3% higher than in 2017. This is the first time the CDC has seen so many cases of this particular STD. 35,000 new syphilis infections were found, which was 14% more than in 2017.
What many people in developing regions are unaware of is that these infections can easily be passed on to an unborn child during pregnancy. This is what doctors call the “congenital syphilis”. If left untreated, it can result in infant deaths, permanent health issues, miscarriage, and stillbirths.
It’s possible to manage the disease quickly and efficiently, by taking the right antibiotics. But, most patients are unaware they are infected, which leaves them prone to developing serious medical conditions such as ectopic pregnancies and infertility. Plus, the longer the infection is left to manifest in the system, the higher the chances of contracting HIV.
The Lowest and Highest Reported Cases Based on Region
These STDs have been closely monitored on a national and nationwide scale, announced CNN. Based on the latest statistical analysis, the highest recorded cases were:
- Secondary and Primary Syphilis – Nevada
- Gonorrhea – Mississippi
- Chlamydia – Alaska
Compared to any other state, these three infections stood out the most. Since more and more testing kits are available, it has become a lot easier to detect and identify these cases. As a result, the Department of Health in DC continues to invest in increasing the testing methods.
Despite the rise in these STDs, HPV, herpes, and genital warts cases have drastically decreased. Experts believe the access to the HPV vaccine proves helpful.
What Could Be Causing the Increase in Numbers?
A couple of factors can contribute to the spread; some are more prevalent than others. Here are the most common causes behind the STD increase.
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Cultural restrictions/stigma
- Inadequate access to STD prevention
- Reduced number of STD programs in a specific area (budget cuts, lack of staff, closing clinics, etc)
Not everyone is using condoms to reduce the chance of being infected or transmitting the infection. Particularly the vulnerable population like bisexuals and gay men. It’s true that finances have a major role to play, but they are not the only relevant factor.
STD awareness is not present everywhere. There are still regions, like the African communities, where STDs are considered taboo. According to the National Institutes of Health, such cultural restrictions are a major burden for managing the situation. Many STD programs have experienced massive budget costs, making screening and treatment less accessible.
What Can Be Done to Solve the Problem?
This is not something that can be solved overnight. It will take a combined effort of local and federal programs to maximize the potential of STD prevention and treatment, stated the CDC.
The population, particularly in vulnerable areas and communities must get access to maternal, sexual, infant and reproductive health advice. Despite these difficulties, the CDC will remain devoted to making it work. By promoting these necessities and providing fragile communities with adequate treatment, it will be possible to reduce the numbers.
Treatment and screening for all kinds of STDs should be a standard procedure. If we work together, we can turn the tide. It’s crucial to make our sexual health a top priority before it gets any worse.