Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Pa. Health Dept.: Syphilis, STD Cases On The Rise Across The State

FREDERIC J. BROWN via Getty Images FREDERIC J. BROWN via Getty Images
Steve Townsend | 30 August, 2018, 09:43

To put it bluntly, as Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, did in a CDC press release: "We are sliding backward". More than 1.7 million cases were diagnosed in 2017, with 45 percent among 15- to 24-year-old females.

"The vast majority of individuals who have a sexually transmitted infection, they have no idea that they're even carrying", University of Indianapolis director of public health Heidi Hancher-Rauch said.

The CDC report shows nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis were diagnosed in the U.S.in 2017.

PREVENTION TREATMENT. This trio of STDs can lead to infertility, stillbirths, ectopic pregnancies, and a host of other conditions if left untreated. Increases in diagnoses among women - and the speed with which they are increasing - are also concerning, with cases going up for the third year in a row (from 197,499 to 232,587).

Gail Bolan, director of the Division of STD Prevention at the CDC, called the rise "very concerning".

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"If we're not teaching people how to keep themselves safe from sexually transmitted infections early, then we start to see these surges and increases in those rates", Rauch said.

Gonorrhea cases increased 67 percent, rising from 333,004 to 555,608 diagnoses.

All three are curable with antibiotics, but gonorrhea is increasingly resistant to most drugs used to treat it.

Rauch says part of the problem is that funding for STD prevention and education has been cut across the country. The CDC is concerned that such resistance could eventually extend to ceftriaxone, which would make the disease untreatable by any current antibiotic.

"Doctors are not screening and testing for STDs, and patients don't know they need to ask for that screening and treatment", he said at the briefing. Azithromycin was added to help delay the development of resistance to ceftriaxone. The diseases can be treated with antibiotics, but gonorrhea has become resistant to almost every class of antibiotics except ceftriaxone.

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