Gonorrhea rates are right down, Chlamydia is 19% up on 2006, while syphilis is rising much more slowly and appears to have peaked among females - with 19 million new sexually transmitted disease (STD) cases annually, rates in the USA are still very high.
This data is from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) 2009 STD Surveillance Report.
American physicians are required to report cases of Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, but not HPV (human papillomavirus) or genital herpes, the authors explain. So the total for all STDs is definitely much higher than the quoted 19 million.
According to the CDC, reported STD infections cost the American health system approximately $16.4 billion per year.
Despite the continued high burden of STDs, the latest CDC data show some signs of progress:
Gonorrhea - gonorrhea rates are lowest on record, ever since records started in 1941.
- 2009 - 301,174 reported cases
- Rate per 100,000 people - 99.1
- African-Americans accounted for 71% of all cases.
Chlamydia - expanded and improved screening efforts are probably the main reason for the continuing increase in rates, rather than any true increase in the disease burden, the CDC believes.
- 2009 - 1,244,180 reported cases
- Rate per 100,000 people - 409.2
- African-Americans represent 48% of all cases.
Syphilis - rates have not gone up for females for the first time in five years. For the first time in four years rates of infection from mother to infant have not increased.
- 2009 - 13,997 reported cases
- Rate per 100,000 people - 4.6
- The largest increase has been among men who have sex with men (MSM), in 2009 they accounted for 62% all cases. The CDC advises all MSMs to have at least one test per year for syphilis.
The authors wrote:
- "Acknowledging disparities in STD rates is one of the first steps in empowering affected communities to focus on the problem and helping the public health community direct prevention and treatment resources appropriately."
If an STD goes untreated or undetected, the risk of becoming infected with HIV is greater, there is a higher chance of having a serious health consequence, such as infertility.
Gonorrhea and Chlamydia, if left untreated can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease in females, which can cause infertility. In fact, according to US health authorities, over 24,000 American women with an STD become infertile annually.
Syphilis can lead to brain damage, as well as damage to the cardiovascular system and other organs, if left untreated. A pregnant woman can pass on her syphilis infection to her baby (congenital syphilis), causing stillbirth, perinatal death, neurological problems, and physical deformity. 40% of babies die if the pregnant mother has syphilis.
"CDC's 2009 STD surveillance report"
Written by Christian Nordqvist