Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) on the rise, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2017, a record-breaking 2.3 million new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis were reported. That uptick outpaces the more than two million cases in 2016, when the last record for STD rates hit an all-time high.
Why are there so many more new cases of preventable sexually transmitted infections? Experts say numerous factors, including decreased use of condoms, may play a role, according to NBC News. Condoms are the only form of contraception that protect against STDs. Whatever the reasons, researchers are alarmed.
In terms of prevention and treatment, “We are sliding backward,” said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, the director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. This marks the fourth consecutive year of sharp increases in reports of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Chlamydia continues to be the most common condition reported to the CDC, with more than 1.7 million cases reported in 2017, with 45% of those cases reported by women ages 15 to 24. Though treatable with antibiotics, most cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis go untreated. Left untreated, these STDs can cause numerous other conditions, including infertility, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth in infants, and increased HIV risk.
The CDC report also notes heightened concerns about antibiotic-resistant strains of gonorrhea, as the infection continues to mutate. Only one antibiotic available in the United States, ceftriaxone, is highly effective in treating gonorrhea.
Individual states are seeing an uptick as national STD rates rise. California’s STD cases also broke records in 2017.