‘Skyrocketing’ US STDs: Cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea & syphilis reach record levels

Faith Castro
August 30, 2018

"We are sliding backward", Jonathan Mermin, the CDC's director for HIV/AIDS, Viral, STD and TB Prevention, said.

Chlamydia was the most common condition reported to the CDC, with more than 1.7 million cases diagnosed in 2017.

The data reveals that there were almost 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis previous year. Females between the ages of 15 and 24 made up 45 percent of the cases.

"We have seen steep and sustained increases over the last five years", Dr. Gail Bolan, the CDC's director of the Division of STD Prevention, told NBC News.

Of these, 555,608 cases of gonorrhea represented a 67 percent uptick in the same time period.

Syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth and increased HIV risk.

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All three are curable with antibiotics, but gonorrhea is increasingly resistant to most drugs used to treat it.

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However, gonorrhea has become resistant to all but one of them, and experts fear it's only a matter of time before even that one is no longer effective.

Rauch says part of the problem is that funding for STD prevention and education has been cut across the country.

"State and local STD programs are working with effectively half the budget they had in the early 2000s", Harvey said. "If our representatives are serious about protecting American lives, they will provide adequate funding to address this crisis". But he also said providers and patients played a significant role as "doctors are not screening and testing for STDs and patients don't know they need to ask for screening and treatment".

In 2015, CDC began recommending health care providers prescribe a single shot of ceftriaxone accompanied by an oral dose of azithromycin to people diagnosed with gonorrhea.

Experts are anxious that azithromycin-resistant genes in some gonorrhea strains could cross over into gonorrhea that is not as susceptible to ceftriaxone. The CDC is concerned that such resistance could eventually extend to ceftriaxone, which would make the disease untreatable by any current antibiotic.

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