How the Costs of STDs Complications Are Affecting the Global Economy

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have been imposing major, both health and economic burdens on a global level. Throughout the years, more than 35 different bacterial, viral, and parasitic pathogens have been considered to be sexually transmittable. The most common ones are, of course, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, etc.

More than 12 million Americans each year, with 3 million of them being teenagers, are affected by some kind of STD. And the problem is not only in the United States alone. More than 1 million new cases of STDs are acquired each day on a global level, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Although there have been effective treatment plans developed for four highly curable STDs annually, there are over 357 million new cases around the world. Most of the infections have been detected among people between the ages of 15 and 49. Trichomonas vaginalis has been by far the most common curable STD affecting around 148 million people, while Gonorrhea has affected around 79 million people. Syphilis has also affected around 6 million people, and Chlamydia has affected 131 million people. 

Despite the vigorous attempts to prevent and cure many of the common STDs, we have been faced with a continuous spread, as the previously mentioned numbers can show. We have been forced to experience the many difficult and even deadly consequences that these STDs can potentially have. 

Infertility, certain cancers, heart disease, arthritis, pregnancy complications, and even stillbirth are some of the most common complications caused by STDs each day. But the medical complications are not the only ones that we are forced to face when it comes to STDs. STDs impose major economic burden as well, especially in low-income countries around Africa. It is these low-income countries that account for the higher STD prevalences and, as such, exhibit greater cost variations, mostly because lacking the standard treatment and management strategies that the high-income countries such as the United States have in their possession.  

The costs associated with STDs are divided into “direct” and “indirect” costs. Direct costs include both medical and nonmedical costs, such as those that refer to materials and services. Such examples are the costs of pharmaceuticals, hospital admissions, transportation, home care, health care workers’ services, etc.

The productivity costs as often referred to as the “indirect costs,” those that refer to the cost of the productivity of the affected individuals. Being unable to take part in the usual everyday activities both at home and at work is seen as an “indirect cost.” 

These costs refer to both the disease itself, but also the complications that they so commonly are causing to take place. All of these costs are reflecting poorly on the global economy. AIDS/HIV and HPV are by far the costliest STDs of them all, having accounted for around $5.9 billion or 90% of the total estimated economic burden in the U.S. In 2000, the total estimated economic burden of the nine million STD cases reported that year, was around $6.5 billion.