Stephanie S. Arnold Pang
National Coalition of STD Directors
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its 2012 sexually transmitted disease (STD) surveillance data. This annual report of statistics and trends for the three reportable sexually transmitted diseases in the United States (chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis) shows that STD rates for all three diseases continue to increase. In fact, the over 1.4 million cases of chlamydia reported to the CDC in 2012 was the greatest number of cases for any condition ever reported to the CDC.
“The ever-increasing rates of sexually transmitted diseases continue to threaten the health and well-being of millions of Americans, particularly youth and men who have sex with men (MSM),” stated William Smith, Executive Director of the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD). “The long-term consequences of these diseases impact the health of the individual, burden our larger health care system, and drastically hinder our continued fight against HIV and AIDS.”
While the number of cases reported to the CDC of chlamydia markedly increased in 2012, the overall population rate per 100,000 increased just slightly. The rates of chlamydia in men, however, rose 3.2%. In 2012, rates of primary and secondary syphilis rose a dramatic 11.1%. This increase was seen solely among men, particularly men who have sex with men (MSM). In cases where the sex of the partner is known, MSM account for 75% of the primary and secondary syphilis cases reported to the CDC. Data also suggest that as many as 40% of MSM with syphilis are also co-infected with HIV. STDs greatly increase a person’s risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV. Rising STD rates have a major negative impact on our ability to address the HIV epidemic.
Gonorrhea rates also rose for the third year in a row in 2012. Increasing gonorrhea rates continue to be deeply troubling due to rising drug resistance in gonorrhea. Reducing gonorrhea rates would reduce the overall gonorrhea disease burden and reduce the response needed when resistant gonorrhea does arrive.
“Simply put, STD public health programs do not have enough resources to address all the serious problems that face them. Those on the front lines of STD prevention and control are forced to pick and choose among diseases and populations. As a result, thousands, if not millions, of Americans at risk for STDs are not able to be reached, with long-term human and economic costs,” stated Smith. “STD programs desperately need additional funding to address these rising rates and meet our STD epidemics effectively.”
This data also shows that both the case and rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea continue to be highest in people 24 and younger. Almost 60% of reported cases of gonorrhea occur in this population. A shocking 70% of cases of chlamydia are in young people below the age of 25. These diseases have long-term health consequences, particularly for young women—it is estimated that undiagnosed STDs cause 24,000 women to become infertile each year.
To make progress, NCSD believes critical investments in public health programs are essential as well as other needed interventions including: better comprehensive sex education for young people, greater outreach to the general public and private providers, an increased focus on condom use, and point of care diagnostic tests for earlier detection and better connection to treatment.
The full 2012 STD surveillance data can be found on the CDC website at: www.cdc.gov/std/stats12/. In addition, the current CDC guidelines for STD screening and treatment can be found here: http://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment/2010/.
The National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD) is a partnership of public health professionals dedicated to promoting sexual health through the prevention of STDs. NCSD provides dynamic leadership that strengthens STD Programs by advocating for effective policies, strategies,
and sufficient resources by increasing awareness of the medical and social impacts of STDs.
For more information, visit www.NCSDDC.org.