New CDC data reveals a sharp increase in sexually transmitted disease (STD) cases in the United States for the fourth year in a row. What should one do after being diagnosed with an STD?
In 2017 alone, there were 2.3 million STD diagnoses in the United States, surpassing 2016’s STD record by over 200,000 cases. This is according to newly released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that marks the record for 2017 as the fourth consecutive year for the sharp and sustained increase in STD cases.
Specifically, the CDC found a 67 percent increase in gonorrhea cases, with diagnoses among women rapidly rising and the cases among men nearly doubling the 2016 numbers. There was also a sharp 76 percent increase in primary and secondary syphilis diagnoses, with gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men (MSM) making up nearly 70 percent of the cases. In regard to chlamydia, CDC data shows that it remains to be the most commonly reported STD with 1.7 million diagnosed in 2017 alone, nearly half of said cases coming from females between 15 and 24 years old.
While chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis can be cured with antibiotics, many cases remain undiagnosed and untreated, possibly leading the patient to serious conditions such as infertility, stillbirth in infants, ectopic pregnancies, and even an increased HIV risk. Further, as STD cases continue to rise, so does the threat of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea which has become resistant to nearly all antibiotics apart from ceftriaxone, an effective treatment for gonorrhea.
It was in 2015 when the CDC began recommending the combination of a ceftriaxone shot and oral azithromycin for people diagnosed with gonorrhea, as azithromycin was found to help delay gonorrhea’s resistance to ceftriaxone. However, recent CDC findings reveal that gonorrhea is slowly becoming resistant to azithromycin from 1 percent in 2013 to 4 percent in 2017. This could mean that a strain of ceftriaxone-resistant gonorrhea may one day emerge.
“We expect gonorrhea will eventually wear down our last highly effective antibiotic, and additional treatment options are urgently needed. We can’t let our defenses down — we must continue reinforcing efforts to rapidly detect and prevent resistance as long as possible,” said Gail Bolan M.D. of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention.
What To Do When Diagnosed With STD
According to the CDC, there are three important steps to take when one finds out of an STD diagnosis: get treated, tell your partner, and get retested. The first step is very obvious since there are available treatments for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. If left untreated, the infection may eventually cause serious health problems even if one does not develop any symptoms.
Regular doctors may prescribe the appropriate treatments, but if one is without insurance or would like to see another professional for treatment, there are STD clinics, family planning clinics, student care clinics, and urgent care clinics available.
It is also very important to tell sexual partners of the diagnosis as soon as possible so that they, too, can get tested and treated so as not to pass it back or to other sexual partners. While this may be an uncomfortable step, it is an important one for both personal and public health. Lastly, it is very important to get retested, perhaps three months after treatment, as it is not uncommon to get re-infected with STDs again.