America May Be Heading Into an STD Epidemic

A journalist from Poz magazine has drawn attention to a new study from North California’s health system. The study which used data collected from July 2012 to June 2015 reveal that rates of rectal gonorrhea and urethral chlamydia have increased over the years and almost gone up by twice the numbers in a year’s time.

The groups mostly affected by the growing STD rates are men who have sex with men and young people aged between 15 to 25 years. Men who have sex with men are at a great risk of contracting HIV. Hence, they are put on HIV PrEP or HIV PEP after suspected exposure.

But this encourages more condomless sex that does not protect them from contracting HIV. Moreover, the belief that STDs are treatable makes people carry the infections without a lot of weight.

The study further supports another study carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that reported unprecedented high numbers of gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia in 2015 in the U.S. As mentioned above, the groups most affected by the STDs are men who have sex with men who account for majority of the new diagnoses for syphilis and gonorrhea.

The other group is young adults aged 15 to 24 who account for 50% of gonorrhea cases and 66% of the chlamydia cases. Additionally, it was noted that cases of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea were on the rise among men who have sex with men.

Reasons Behind the Rising Numbers

The number one reason for the growth in STD cases according to the CDC is the cuts in budgeting in state and local STD screening programs which resulted in the closure of about 20 health clinics in a year. Consequently, this reduced access to STD testing and treatment for those in need of the services.

Despite the cuts in budgets affecting screening clinics, there is a lax attitude on the contraction of STDs as mentioned above. Men among the gay community do not feel as if contracting an STD is that big of a deal. This is because they believe the infections are treatable. They also feel that they are in a population that is at a high risk of contracting the STDs so when they do get them, it does not come as a surprise.

Another study from North California credits the growth of numbers in STDs to lack of sex education. People think that sex education should be done but parents but in some states, due to their conservative nature, this does not happen.

Most parents are not comfortable talking to their kids about sex and so the kids just do whatever they want with little information which may be false and received from the internet or their peers.

Recommendations on how to Lower the Numbers

Despite the numbers being so high, the CDC recommends the importance of expanding screening services in order to deal with the impending epidemic.

The journalist who brought the story to light also suggests that people should have more conversations about sex as well as encouraging others to go for STD testing as well as treatment in the event that they contract the infections.

Source: Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes