Americans contracted a record number of sexually transmitted diseases in 2017, beating the 2016 tally-which was then an all-time high-by more than 200,000 cases, according to preliminary data revealed yesterday by the CDC. Females between the ages of 15 and 24 made up 45 percent of the cases.
"We are sliding backward", Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H, director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention said.
"We have seen steep and sustained increases over the last five years", said Dr. Gail Bolan, director of the Division of STD Prevention at the CDC.
"The United States continues to have the highest STD rates in the industrialized world", said David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors.
And yet we all but ignore these critical health components when we talk about, plan for, and pay for health.
More than 4 percent of gonorrhea samples now are resistant to azithromycin (Zithromax), one of two antibiotics now used to cure the bacterial infection, the CDC says. This featured a doubling of cases among men, but the CDC explains that "increases in diagnoses among women - and the speed with which they are increasing - are also concerning", adding that this is the third consecutive year that cases have risen.
Diagnoses of primary and secondary syphilis rose 76 percent from 17,375 to 30,644.
But often, the infections go undiagnosed and untreated, and may lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth in infants, and increased HIV risk.
Gonorrhea cases in men almost doubled to 322,169 in 2017 compared with 2013, the CDC said. To do that, we need the government to step up and ensure those working to prevent STDs have the resources they need to do so effectively.
In recent years, gonorrhea has become resistant to almost every class of antibiotics, except ceftriaxone. However, 2017 saw the emergence of a "super gonorrhea" that is treatment resistant, and it's not inconceivable that the other diseases could evolve to resist antibiotics as well.