America’s sexually transmitted disease rates are out of control


Olde Hornet

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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are still on the rise in the United States, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On Tuesday the CDC released a report on statistics from 2018, which indicate historic rates of chlamydia and the worst rates of syphilis and gonorrhea since 1991. Most concerningly, the CDC reports a 40 percent increase in congenital syphilis—a potentially fatal and totally preventable condition where infection passes from a parent to a fetus through the placenta—since 2017. This represents the fifth year in a row that STIs have hit all-time highs.

In 2018, Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention noted that rising infection rates showed we were "sliding backward," with "systems that identify, treat, and ultimately prevent STDs... strained to near-breaking point." The latest report makes it clear those systems have all but crumbled.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Are STIs and STDs the same thing? Which STDs are on the rise?

First, a little clarification: The CDC uses the acronym “STD” in its reports, which is short for sexually transmitted disease. But when we speak broadly about sexual health, sexually transmitted infection (STI) is actually more accurate. Many infections do not turn into “diseases,” which are afflictions that alter the body's function. Herpes, for example, fails to cause symptoms in the vast majority of people infected with it.
 

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