Based on new information shared by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this week, America is in an STD epidemic. Preliminary data from the governmental agency shows the spread of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis all respectively rose in 2021, with 2.5 million reported cases amongst them.
Comparatively, the CDC ultimately reported 2.4 million cases of sexually transmitted diseases in 2020, according to Politico. The outlet additionally detailed that “gonorrhea increased 2.8 percent — reaching almost 700,000 infections in 2021. [Meanwhile], chlamydia, which had declined in 2020, increased 3 percent last year.”
The CDC’s report highlighted that sexually transmitted diseases continue “to increase during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, with no signs of slowing.”
While the final 2021 data “will be provided in the forthcoming 2021 STD Surveillance Report,” public health officials are calling for citizens to keep themselves safe.
Dr. Leandro Mena, the CDC’s director of the Division of STD Prevention, said at a medical conference on Monday, “It is imperative that we … work to rebuild, innovate, and expand (STD) prevention in the U.S.”
The Causes For The Rise In STDs and STIs
While Mena spoke with Politico, the public health official explained that multiple factors are causing the epidemic.
The rise of opioid and methamphetamine usage during the pandemic has led to more HIV and hepatitis infections amongst those sharing needles, trading sex for drugs, and sleeping together unprotected, according to the outlet.
Some of the issues contributing to the epidemic that Mena outlined included a decrease in condom usage — particularly among young people — and people feeling uncomfortable openly discussing the prevention and treatment of STDs and STIs with their primary care physicians.
Additionally, a lack of funding allocated towards public health has left many lacking the sexual health resources and services they need.
“Over two decades of level funding, when you account for inflation and population changes, have effectively decreased the buying power of public health dollars and resulted in the reduction of STI services at the local level,” Mena told the outlet. “That reduction in screening, treatment and partner services likely contributed to these STI increases.”
“Monkeypox is inundating these programs and it is interrupting our ability to diagnose and treat other STIs,” noted David Harvey, the executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors. “It’s shining a bright light on the fact that safety net clinics who provide essential services are in desperate need of federal support.”