CDC has announced new cases of sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S. reached a record high in 2016, federal health officials announced Tuesday.
There were nearly 1.6 million reported cases of chlamydia, almost 470,000 cases of gonorrhoea and just more than 28,000 of syphilis last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual report on STD’s. Such diseases are on the rise among women, newborns and gay and bisexual men, according to the findings.
Health officials warn the infections can lead to serious short and long-term health concerns, like infertility or HIV. They also carry a significant social stigma.
The CDC estimates there are about 20 million new STD’s in the U.S. each year, and more go undiagnosed and unreported. Reported cases account for almost $16 billion in annual health care costs, and half of them are reported among people between 15 and 24 years old.
The nationwide increase marks the third straight year that the number of reported cases has trended upward. That general increase, however, is relatively recent, according to federal health officials. Cases of reported syphilis, for example, were on the decline in 1941.
“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 Chlamydia infections,” wrote Gail Bolan, director of the CDC’s sexually transmitted disease prevention program, in the report’s foreword. “That progress has since unravelled.”
Chlamydia was the most commonly reported STD, with women between the ages of 15 and 24 accounting for nearly half of those cases. But syphilis rates also rose nearly 18 percent between 2015 and 2016 and reported cases of gonorrhoea rose among both men and women last year.
Each can be cured by antibiotics, but people who do not care for the infections are more likely to transmit them to others. To combat the rising trend, health officials stressed the “critical” importance of STD screening and testing.