The historic numbers are astonishing.
Now that the covid pandemic is officially over, public health officials are in search of the next big, power-boosting crisis.
They appear to have turned to an old favorite: Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
Sharply rising cases of some sexually transmitted diseases — including a 26% rise in new syphilis infections reported last year — are prompting U.S. health officials to call for new prevention and treatment efforts.
“It is imperative that we … work to rebuild, innovate, and expand (STD) prevention in the U.S.,” said Dr. Leandro Mena of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a speech Monday at a medical conference on sexually transmitted diseases.
Infections rates for some STDs, including gonorrhea and syphilis, have been rising for years. Last year the rate of syphilis cases reached its highest since 1991 and the total number of cases hit its highest since 1948. HIV cases are also on the rise, up 16% last year.
…David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, called the situation “out of control.”
The historical numbers are astonishing, especially as our public educators tout the fact that they are the best trained to teach about human sexuality.
Politico, which first reported on the preliminary STD data, said that in 2021, syphilis cases saw their highest annual increase since former President Harry Truman was in the White House decades ago. Truman left office on January 20, 1953.
The U.S. saw an increase of nearly 28 percent of total annual syphilis cases between 2020 and 2021—just over 171,000 people with confirmed infections.
Chlamydia infections increased 3.1 percent in 2021 compared to 2020, with more than 1.6 million cases, and gonorrhea infections saw a rise of 2.8 percent with nearly 700,000 cases,
The U.S. saw 2.5 million cases of the three STDs last year, 4.4 percent more cases than were detected by public health officials in 2020.
The U.S. saw historic lows of gonorrhea cases as recently as 2009, and historic lows of syphilis in 2000 and 2001, according to the CDC.
Perhaps the rush to celebrate human connections after pandemic isolation could account for this increase. Furthermore, post-pandemic medical care has been delayed or may be harder to schedule, which could also be a contributing factor.
Public health officials also blame inflation and opioid abuse as potential underlying causes.
Leandro Mena, the director of the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, told POLITICO that chronic underfunding of public health programs is largely to blame.
“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 said. “That reduction in screening, treatment and partner services likely contributed to these STI increases.”
Additionally, opioid and methamphetamine use — which increased significantly during the pandemic — is both leading to more HIV and hepatitis infections among people who share needles and to the spread of other STDs as more people trade sex for drugs and engage in unprotected sex.
Also fueling the rising rates, Mena said, are decreases in condom usage, particularly among young people, and taboos around sex that deter people from talking to their primary care doctors about STD prevention and treatment.
I can’t wait until the “experts” start blaming the surge on “climate change.”DONATE
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