The U.S. last year saw three sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) reach their highest rates yet. In a worryingly upward trajectory, chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea have been increasing among Americans over the past five years.
And it's not looking like this trend will stop anytime soon.
These figures were published in a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this month.
The CDC's report
More than 115,000 cases of syphilis, 580,000 cases of gonorrhea, and 1.7 million cases of chlamydia were reported over 2018.
The CDC disclosed this was a 100,000 overall increase in numbers when compared with 2017. Plus, these are only the reported cases.
The STDs are entirely preventable and curable. However, as they are symptomless, many go unnoticed, especially as not enough people go for these types of medical check-ups.
The problem with these symptomless diseases is that if they go untreated, they can lead to life-long medical issues and sometimes, even death.
What's more troubling is that there has been a 40% increase in congenital syphilis. It can be passed on from mother to baby. The number of newborn babies dying from congenital syphilis increased by 22% from 2017 to 2018. This resulted in 94 deaths in 2018, compared with 77 the previous year.
On top of newborn deaths, congenital syphilis can also cause the mother to miscarry, have a stillbirth, or suffer severe neurological and physical problems for the duration of her life.
The CDC's director for the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Jonathan Mermin, said: "Curbing STDs will improve the overall health of the nation and prevent infertility, HIV, and infant deaths."
#Moms-to-be: DYK? #Syphilis is rising in women and newborns. Keep you and your baby safe—make sure you’re tested at your first prenatal visit. More: https://t.co/eVaqgHaRjr #STDreport pic.twitter.com/APgAeZWHoh— CDC (@CDCgov) October 11, 2019
The STDs in question
All it takes to cure these STDs is a good dose of antibiotics. Unfortunately, when left untouched, they can easily spread from person to person, leading to many health issues. These include infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and a higher risk of HIV.
Furthermore, as the specific STDs show no symptoms when people are called in for their check-ups, they simply ignore these.
What is leading to these increases in numbers?
The CDC's report stated that increased drug use, poverty, stigma, and unstable housing all have a direct link to the increased rates of STDs.
#DYK? #Syphilis is increasing among women. Talk openly and honestly with your healthcare provider and ask if testing is right for you. What else can you do? ➡️ https://t.co/ZUymrWdUwM #STDreport pic.twitter.com/VKwssOvh2g— CDC (@CDCgov) October 9, 2019
Additionally, condoms are being less used in certain groups who are more susceptible to catching STDs: young people, and homosexual and bisexual men.
Lastly, cuts to STD healthcare programs at local and state levels have prevented people from being able to access clinics easily.
The CDC proposes that in order to cut this upward trend, improvements in education, resources, and funding need to happen.