U.S. health officials are calling for increased preventive and treatment measures as rates of STDs are rapidly growing, including a 26% increase in new syphilis infections reported last year.
In a statement made on Monday at a medical conference on STDs, Dr. Leandro Mena of the CDC said, “It is imperative that we… work to rebuild, innovate, and expand (STD) prevention in the U.S.”
The problem is “out of control,” said David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors.
According to Mena, officials are working on new solutions, such as home-testing kits for specific STDs that will make it easier for individuals to determine whether they are infected so they can take action to stop the infection from spreading.
Another expert stated that increasing condom use must be vital to any attempt.
“It’s pretty simple. More sexually transmitted infections occur when people are having more unprotected sex,” said Dr. Mike Saag, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Nearly 41,700 cases were reported by 2020; last year, they increased even further, to more than 52,000.
Additionally, the recurrence rate has increased, reaching 16 per 100,000 persons last year. It’s the highest level in thirty years.
The rates are higher among men who have sex with other men and Native Americans, Black, and Hispanic Americans. Officials observed that although the rate for women is lower than that for men, it has been rising more sharply, by almost 50% last year.
According to experts, there could be several reasons for the rise in syphilis and other STDs. Years of insufficient funding have hampered testing and preventive initiatives, and spread may have increased due to delayed diagnosis and treatment – particularly during the pandemic.
However, it’s possible that a spike in sexual activity arose as people left COVID-19 lockdowns. “People are feeling liberated,” Saag said.
“I envision one day where getting tested (for STDs) can be as simple and as affordable as doing a home pregnancy test,” he said.