Officials are working on new approaches to the rise in STDs in the US, including efforts to increase condom use. Credit – Bea on fr.wikipedia, Public Domain
Soaring cases of some sexually transmitted diseases are prompting U.S. health officials to call for new prevention and treatment efforts.
“It is critical that we … work to rebuild, innovate, and scale up prevention (STIs) in the US,” said Dr. Leandro Mena of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. in a speech on Monday at a medical conference on sexually transmitted diseases.
In 2021 alone, the number of syphilis cases increased by 26 percent, the highest since 1991, and the total number of cases reached its highest level since 1948. The number of HIV cases is also on the rise, up 16 percent last year.
Adding to that statistic is an international outbreak of monkeypox, which is spreading primarily between men who have sex with other men, further highlighting the country’s growing problem with mainly sexually transmitted diseases, the reports said. ABC news.
David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, called the situation “out of control.”
Officials are working to find new ways to address the problem, including home testing kits for some STDs that will make it easier for people to know they are infected and take steps to prevent their spread to others, Dr. Mena said.
Another official said that the bulk of any effort should be directed towards increasing condom use.
“It’s pretty simple. The more often people have unprotected sex, the more sexually transmitted infections,” said Dr. Mike Saag, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Syphilis is a bacterial disease that manifests as sores on the genitals, but can eventually lead to severe symptoms and death if left untreated. The number of new cases of syphilis in the US has declined sharply since the 1940s, when antibiotics became widely available.
They fell to their lowest point by 1998, when just 7,000 cases were reported nationwide. The CDC was so encouraged by the progress that it launched a plan to eliminate syphilis in the US.
US News reports that by 2002, the number of cases began to rise again, mostly among gay and bisexual men, and continued to rise. At the end of 2013, the CDC ended its eradication campaign due to limited funding and a rise in cases that exceeded 17,000 that year.
By 2020, the number of cases has reached almost 41,700, and last year they grew even more, to more than 52,000.
Rates are highest among men who have sex with men, as well as among black and Hispanic Americans and Native Americans.
This is related to another problem – the growth congenital syphilis, in which infected mothers pass the virus to their children, which can lead to the death of the child or health problems such as deafness and blindness. Ten years ago, the number of cases of congenital syphilis was only about 300 per year; they rose to nearly 2,700 last year. Of last year’s tally, 211 were stillbirths or infant deaths, Mena said.