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Sexually Transmitted Disease in America

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday released a report on the state of sexually transmitted disease (STD) in 2007. It paints a pretty grim picture.


  • There are about 19 million cases a year; half of them among people ages 15 to 24. And that figure only represents the three "reportable" STDS -- gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis. Infections such as genital herpes and human papillomavirus aren't included in the tally.
  • Chlamydia has reached an all-time high, with more than 1.1 million cases recorded. But while this bacterial infection is easily treated with antibiotics in its early stages, the disease rarely causes symptoms and often goes undiagnosed, potentially leading to infertility and pregnancy complications. Officials think the actual number of cases in the U.S. is closer to 2.8 million.
  • Syphilis had been beaten back to an all-time low number of cases in 2000, after which its incidence remained steady until 2006, when the number of cases rose by 15.2 percent. Worse yet: its transmission from mothers to babies rose in 2007 for the second year in a row.
  • Syphilis appears to make the AIDS-causing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) more readily transmitted from person to person.
  • Gonorrhea cases had been cut by 74 percent from 1975 to 1997, but since then has remained stable. There's growing concern that gonorrhea is developing resistance to the antibiotics used to treat it.
  • Though only 12 percent of the U.S. population is black, 70 percent of gonorrhea cases and almost half of all cases of chlamydia and syphilis occur among black people.
  • The CDC estimates STDs cost the U.S. healthcare system as much as $15.3 billion annually (in 2007 dollars).

The CDC says changing these trends will require increased screening, testing and treatment, behavioral interventions and education efforts at the local, state and federal levels.

That will cost money. And in this economic climate, there's not much money to spare.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  January 14, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  General Health  
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The more accurate term is STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) not STDs.

Posted by: adberm | January 14, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

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