The US Is Facing an ‘Out of Control’ STI Epidemic, Experts Warn : ScienceAlert

The United States is facing an “out of control” epidemic of sexually transmitted infections, according to the National Coalition of STD Directors.

The warning, issued in January, followed the release of an annual STI data report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The exasperation of public health officials is felt from the first sentence of the online announcement.

“Again,” the CDC website states, “more than 2.5 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis have been reported in the United States.”

Trends in annual reported STI cases from 2018 to 2022. (CDC)

The most common STI in the United States in 2022 was chlamydia, which has held the top spot for years. However, it is the recent increase in syphilis that worries health officials the most.

According to CDC data, cases of syphilis of all stages have increased by 80 percent over the past five years.

While most think adults get STIs, syphilis also threatens babies’ lives. When a child contracts syphilis from the mother during pregnancy or childbirth, it is called congenital syphilis.

As of 2022, more than 3,700 of these cases have been officially reported in the United States. This represents an increase of 937 percent in a single decade.

The good news is that syphilis can be cured with the right antibiotics. The bad news is that until the infection is diagnosed and treated, it can cause irreversible damage to the body. In babies, syphilis is particularly dangerous, sometimes leading to developmental delays, seizures, and even death.

In adults, syphilis spreads vaginally, anally, or orally and tends to progress in stages. The primary stage usually involves sores around the mouth or genitals, while the secondary stage can trigger rashes on the body and flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, sore throat and fatigue.

These first two stages correspond to when the infection is most contagious. It is rare for the disease to progress to the third stage, which can affect organs and prove fatal.

The fact that early stages of syphilis are increasing by about 10 percent per year is of great concern and threatens the health of babies across the country.

In a single year, cases of congenital syphilis increased by 31 percent in the United States. Black or African-American children have been disproportionately affected.

While almost every state reported a case of congenital syphilis in 2022, the states of Texas, California, Arizona, Florida, and Louisiana accounted for 57% of all reports.

“Tragically,” wrote Laura Bachmann, CDC director for STD prevention, “these infections led to 282 stillbirths and infant deaths in 2022.”

Such disastrous consequences are hardly inevitable. According to experts, timely screening and treatment for syphilis during pregnancy could have prevented 88 percent of these cases.

So why isn’t this happening?

“The ITS field has reached a critical point,” Bachmann explained.

“We have known for a long time that these infections are common, but we have not faced such serious effects of syphilis in decades. Recent public health emergencies have diverted program resources and threatened the health of those already disproportionately affected by STIs. the pieces.”

CDC officials are calling for “rapid innovation and collaboration” from all public health experts who play a role in STI prevention.

Their voices are already joined by many health associations, including the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), the American Sexual Health Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSDDC) .

“The latest STI data from the CDC shows that our country is facing a rapidly deteriorating public health crisis with real lives at stake,” NCSDDC warns in a statement.

“STIs – especially syphilis – will continue to spiral out of control until the Administration and Congress provide communities with the funding they need to provide the most basic testing, treatment and prevention services.”

Although President Biden has implemented a multi-agency plan to address the increase in STI cases in the United States, funding for this effort remains uncertain.

Despite the escalating situation, NCSDDC confirmed in March that the White House’s 2025 budget plan did not include any increase in federal ITS funding for the CDC.

An earlier version of this article was published in February 2024.

News Source :
Gn Health

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