Health officials aren’t firm on what’s causing the overall higher rate of STDs. It could be because more people are being screened – and with more accurate tests – or it could mean that more people are infected by and transmitting STDs.
The CDC researchers estimate that 19 million new sexually transmitted infections occur each year, with young adults accounting for half of all cases.
"Take greater steps toward STD prevention. "
Here’s the good news: There’s one STD that isn’t on the rise - syphilis. The number of new syphilis infections dropped for the first time in 10 years, with only 13,774 cases reported in 2010, the most recent year for which data is available.
Syphilis rates have bounced up and down a few times in past years: It declined 89.7% from 1990 to 2000, then climbed each year since 2001. In 2010, syphilis infections slid 21%, though syphilis grew 1.3% in men. According to the report, infection among gay or bisexual men, especially younger men, has been rising since 2001.
The chlamydia rate reached its highest level ever with more than 1.3 million cases of infection in 2010, a 5.1% rise from the year earlier. Women are 2.5 times more likely to get infected compared to men, but this could be because men are less likely to be screened for the disease.
The rate of gonorrhea increased by 2.8% between 2009 and 2010, with 309,341 cases reported in 2010. Gonorrhea infections have fallen since the 1970s – dropping 74% from 1975 to 1996 – but the rate held steady from 2006 to 2009.
The recent jump in infections may be due to men and women’s increased resistance to the only available drug treatment for chlamydia, said the report.
While there are other STDs that are people are infected with every year, the CDC reports in-depth on chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis because the federal government funds programs to reduce the spread of these diseases.
Prevention programs have sought to eliminate sexually spread diseases by focusing efforts on high-risk groups, such as young adults, lower-income Americans, blacks, gay or bisexual men, and in certain parts of the U.S, including the South, where rates of infection are higher for certain STDs.
“STDs are one of the most critical health challenges facing the nation today,” the study’s researchers said the annual report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The study was published on the CDC’s website.