In step with Valentine’s Day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the U.S. has around 110 million cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs or STIs), amounting to 20 million new infections each year, and it is only getting worse.

The announcement followed two new studies just released by the CDC. They revealed the following STDs as the most common:

Over half of these infections are in the young adult population, those aged 15 to 24 years.

The authors define the new information as proof that STDs are an ongoing, severe epidemic.

When calculating the data, the CDC used national survey data and disease case reports. A primary data source was the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

The majority of STIs do not cause harm, however, some have the potential to cause severe health issues, especially if not found and treated early. Even though young people represent 50 percent of all new STIs, they are only 25 percent of the sexually experienced population.

STDs increase a person’s risk for HIV and can also lead to various health complications. For example, untreated gonorrhea or chlamydia put women at risk for fatal ectopic pregnancy and chronic pelvic pain, and raise the risk of infertility.

HPV, which accounts for a major portion of infections generally goes away on its own (90 percent of cases), but has the potential to lead to cervical cancer, a life-threatening disease.

The majority of sexually active women and men will get HPV at one point in their lives. This means that all people are at risk and can benefit from the HPV vaccine. This growing epidemic also has a surprising impact on the economy – collectively requiring nearly $17 billion a year to treat.

The following four infections can be easily cured when found early, but often go undetected because they do not display any symptoms:

  • gonorrhea
  • syphilis
  • trichomoniasis
  • chlamydia

The CDC recommends STD testing all sexually active people, and treatment right away if necessary. The infections associated with this epidemic are all preventable.

In order to prevent disease the CDC suggests:

  • abstaining from sex
  • consistently and correctly using condoms
  • keeping a low number of sexual partners

Recently reported in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases, a study revealed that Facebook and other social networks are advantageous tools helping in the prevention of HIV and STDs. Men used the sites for knowledge on STDS and ultimately to obtain HIV home tests.

Written by Kelly Fitzgerald