"We are sliding backward", said Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. Nearly half of the cases were chlamydia, which was most commonly diagnosed in girls age 15-24.
Health officials have issued stark warnings as data reveals that sexually transmitted infections are soaring in the US.
Almost 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis were diagnosed in 2017, surpassing the 2016 record by 200,000. Experts say that young people ages 15-24 are responsible for more than half of all new STD cases.
There's a pretty straightforward reason for these increases, according to David C. Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), a public health organization representing individuals and groups working to prevent the spread of STDs.
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Gonorrhea diagnoses alone increased 67 percent and doubled among men. But often, the infections go undiagnosed and untreated, and may lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth in infants, and increased HIV risk.
Currently, the disease has become resistant to nearly every antibiotic available, with only ceftriaxone proving to be an effective way to treat gonorrhea, and that may soon come to an end.
"The explosion in STDs comes on the heels of years of cutbacks in federal funding", Harvey said. But he also said providers and patients played a significant role as "doctors are not screening and testing for STDs and patients don't know they need to ask for screening and treatment". However, 2017 saw the emergence of a "super gonorrhea" that is treatment resistant, and it's not inconceivable that the other diseases could evolve to resist antibiotics as well. "If our representatives are serious about protecting American lives, they will provide adequate funding to address this crisis". The CDC is concerned that such resistance could eventually extend to ceftriaxone, which would make the disease untreatable by any current antibiotic. Azithromycin was added to help delay the development of resistance to ceftriaxone.
The spike has also been blamed on lower condom usage and antibiotic-resistant strains of diseases.