Experts say sexually transmitted disease numbers increasing dramatically

CDC officials concerned about lack of STD awareness


DETROIT – Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number of sexually transmitted diseases continues to rise in the United States.

Last year marked the fourth consecutive year of sharp increase in the number of STDs, officials said.

CDC officials said it's not just the overall numbers, but also the rate at which they're increasing, that's alarming. That doesn't take into account the STDs that are going undiagnosed and untreated.

"The fact that the numbers for gonorrhea, syphilis and Chlamydia are rising, all of which are very treatable STDs, indicates that there will be a rise in other infections as well," said Christina Burke, a Community Health physician assistant.

There were nearly 2.3 million cases in 2017, which was almost 200,000 more than in 2016, experts said.

"Among all demographics, so not only men who have sex with men, but heterosexual men, including pregnant women as well," Burke said.

CDC officials said poverty, stigma, discrimination and drug use are all contributing to the problem. Relaxed attitudes about HIV might also be an issue, officials said.

"We've had truly life-saving drugs for HIV, so people aren't necessarily as afraid and don't feel the need to use condoms to prevent that transmission," Burke said.

Social media is also contributing, experts said.

"Increasing social media apps that makes finding a partner very easy," Burke said.

With gonorrhea diagnoses increasing by 67 percent and syphilis by 76 percent, experts said more education is essential.

"How to prevent and where to get tested are some of the things that we educate about and that the community should know," Burke said.

Experts said condom use and other safe-sex practices can help reduce the risk of many STDs, but it's also important to get tested regularly and seek treatment promptly. Many of the infections develop silently, but they can cause life-changing or life-threatening symptoms if untreated.

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