Article by Emily Woodrow

Syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia are the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the United States. All three are caused by bacteria and can be treated and cured with the proper screening, diagnosis and medication. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention has recently released statistics noting a record high of 2.3 million cases of these STDs in 2017, which is an increase of 200,000 cases from 2016. Gail Bolan, the director of STD Prevention at the CDC, noted that after years of success in STD control, the US has seen sharp increased over the past four years. David Harvey, Executive of the National Coalition of STD Directors, said, “The U.S. continues to have the highest STD rates in the industrialized world.” This is largely due to the fact that so many people do not know they are infected with STDs; symptoms may not arise for weeks after one is infected. Therefore people may be unaware that are also passing the infection to their sexual partners. Additionally, the bacteria which produces gonorrhea is resistant to several of the antibiotics used for effective treatment, which poses a large public health concern. STD programs and the CDC’s budget for sexually transmitted disease prevention have both dropped due to federal budget cuts, resulting in reduced funding for STD screening, shorter clinic hours, and more limited resources. Additionally, over the last 15 years federal funding to prevent and control STDs has declined by about 40% affecting many state and local programs that deal with this type of reproductive health. In order to address this, health care professionals and departments need the continued resources necessary to implement effective screening, including counseling about the need to practice safe sex, when to get testing and the importance of being aware of their status. Dr Bolan adds, patients need to speak up, and ask their doctors: “should I be tested for STDs? I hear they are going up.”

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