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U.S. experiencing a dramatic rise in the number of STDs

By Karen Graham     Nov 18, 2015 in Health
The number of cases of three key sexually transmitted diseases increased last year for the first time since 2006, the CDC reported on Tuesday. The increases have been described as "alarming" by public health officials.
Reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, three "notifiable sexually transmittable diseases" have increased at an alarming rate in the U.S., and federal officials are blaming the rising numbers, in part, on reduced funding for public health clinics.
The CDC is reporting there were nearly 20,000 syphilis cases in 2014, a 15 percent upsurge from 2013, and the highest rate since 1994, including 458 cases of syphilis in newborns, a 27.5 percent increase from the year before. The rates of syphilis were highest among bisexual and gay men.
Chlamydia cases in 2014 topped out at 1.4 million cases being reported, a 2.8 percent increase over 2013. This is the highest number of cases of STDs ever reported by the CDC. As for gonorrhea, this disease continues to increase, with 350,000 cases reported in 2014, a 5.0 percent increase.
While young people and women continue to be the most affected by STDs, another group is now being watched closely. "We are concerned that most of the surging rates are among men," says the director of the CDC's STD prevention division, according to HealthDay News. "Men are driving these increases."
NBC News points out cuts in budgets for state and local STD initiatives have led to closed clinics or reduced hours, as well as increased fees and co-pays. But that is not the only reason for the increase in STDs. Another factor playing a role in the surge in sexually transmitted diseases is the changes in sexual behavior, especially among gay and bisexual men.
Rates of primary and secondary syphilis have been on the rise among men having sex with other men (MSM) since 2000, according to the CDC. Of the number of MSMs diagnosed with syphilis in 2014, over 51 percent were also HIV-positive. Even though syphilis is the only STD where it is necessary to know the patient's sexual partner, there has also been an increase in the number of cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia cases among MSMs.
The CDC thinks it's important that investigations into MSM transmission of these STDs be started. Also of concern to health officials is a relaxed vigilance among gay and bisexual men about the transmission of HIV/AIDS. With the number of drugs available now to combat HIV, the use of condoms has dropped, opening men up to other STDs.
"America's worsening STD epidemic is a clear call for better diagnosis, treatment, and prevention," says the CDC's Dr. Jonathan Mermin, according to Newser. To reduce STDs, Americans must take steps to protect themselves. For the sexually active, this means using condoms consistently and correctly and limiting the number of sex partners.
More about Stds, CDC report, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, men driving increases
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