Statistics for 2019 — the latest data available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — show that sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates in the United States hit a new high again for the sixth straight year. The CDC STD Surveillance Report was released April 13.
In 2019, nearly 2.5 million Americans had an infection of chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis, the CDC said. And early data from 2020 suggest that these trends are continuing.
The new research revealed about 2.5 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in 2019, which is an almost 30 percent increase in these STDs between 2015 and 2019. Gay and bisexual men accounted for nearly half of all 2019 primary and secondary syphilis cases, the CDC reported. The highest increase was in syphilis among newborns, which nearly quadrupled between 2015 and 2019.
Although STDs increased across many groups in 2019, racial and ethnic minorities, gay and bisexual men, and youth were hit the hardest. According to the new report, STD rates were five to eight times higher for Black people than for White people, three to five times higher for American Indian or Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders than for Whites, and one to two times higher for Hispanic people than for White people. Gay and bisexual men accounted for nearly half of all 2019 primary and secondary syphilis cases. Gonorrhea rates were 42 times higher among heterosexual men in some areas. Young people aged 15 to 24 years made up 61 percent of chlamydia cases and 42 percent of gonorrhea cases.
“Less than 20 years ago, gonorrhea rates in the U.S. were at historic lows, syphilis was close to elimination, and advances in chlamydia diagnostics made it easier to detect infections,” researcher Raul Romaguera, M.D., acting director for the CDC Division of STD Prevention, said in an agency news release. “That progress has since unraveled, and our STD defenses are down. We must prioritize and focus our efforts to regain this lost ground and control the spread of STDs.”
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