There has been a worrisome increase in the number of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) i the US between 2015 and 2016.
Syphilis cases increased by 17.6% increase with 27,814 cases in the same year. There was also high concern over an increase of 27.6% in congenital syphilis. This a type of syphilis passed on from mother to child during pregnancy. 628 cases of congenital syphilis were reported in 2016.
Congenital syphilis is very dangerous and results in more than 40% of stillbirths or many babies dying soon after delivery. The babies who survive after delivery tend to suffer from a host of health problems including blindness, deafness, stunted growth and an enlarged liver and spleen.
Cases of gonorrhea had started to go down a few years ago and the infection was close to eradication.
Healthcare Funding and Access
Funding for public health services has received huge cuts from 2012 with only 17% of the gross domestic product spent on public health. Out of this, only 3% is spent on public health missions and prevention initiatives like STD testing.
More than half of local and state funded STD programs have been slashed. Just in 2012, 21 STD clinics were shut in the US. in 2015, Illinois Public Health Department stopped providing free STD testing and asked people to use private testing facilities.
Planned Parenthood has been on the forefront in offering STD testing. By 2013 the organisation had performed almost 4.5 million STD tests as well as 900,000 breast and cervical cancer screenings.
Despite this, the organisation has received continuous attacks from GOP Congress and governors. Their funding has continued to get cut depriving millions of American access to healthcare.
The government has been wasting money on unrealistic abstinence-only campaigns that have been futile in fighting the soaring cases of STD infections in the continent.
This is despite numerous evidence from programs that have succeeded in increasing use of condoms, contraceptives, encouraging STD testing and reducing teen sex. Recently, Trump cut $213.6 million meant for teen pregnancy prevention programs.
What the US government doesn’t seem to understand is that access to accurate STD, HIV/AIDS and other health info, is recognised by the UN, as a basic human right.
When people are denied access to health education, many of them suffer due to ignorance and a lack of general awareness about common health issues including STIs. for instance, so many people are not aware that one can get infected with an STI through oral sex.
How Does This Affect The Country?
If the government allows politics to keep interfering with the healthcare system then the country will continue to suffer an STI epidemic.
Syphilis complications will continue to rise especially among women and babies. As the rates of new infections continue to soar, drug resistance will continue to be witnessed. We already have strains of gonorrhea that won’t respond to antibiotics. The same may be witnessed in syphilis and chlamydia.
Fighting further transmission of common STDs now rather than later is the only way to keep Americans, especially teenagers, protected from this epidemic.