CDC Releases New STD Data
Special Report - January 23, 2009
There were approximately 19 million new infections of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in 2007, with nearly half occurring in 15 to 24 year-olds, according to the latest national estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the report released January 13, the CDC notes that STDs “remain a major public health challenge in the United States,” with women and racial minorities “severely affected.”
“Biological factors place women at greater risk than men for the severe health consequences of STDs,” the report states. “The two most commonly reported infectious diseases in America chlamydia and gonorrheapose a particular risk to the health of women, as both can result in infertility if left untreated.” According to the report, the chlamydia rate among women was three times as high as the rate among men in 2007 (543.6 cases per 100,000 in women compared to 190 cases per 100,000 in men). In addition, the CDC reports that women had a higher rate of gonorrhea than men.
The report also notes that racial minorities, especially African Americans, “bear the greatest burden” of the three most common STDs (Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis). For example, African Americans accounted for about 70 percent of reported gonorrhea cases and nearly half of all Chlamydia (48 percent) and syphilis cases (46 percent) in 2007. This is noteworthy, according to the CDC, because African Americans constitute only 12 percent of the U.S. population. The highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea in 2007 occurred among black women, ages 15 to 19.
Syphilis (a genital ulcer disease) continues to increase rapidly, especially among homosexual and bisexual men. The most infectious stages of the diseaseknown as Primary and Secondary syphilis or P&Sdeclined substantially during the 1990s to reach an “all time low” in 2000, but has been rising steadily since 2001. The CDC reports that 65 percent of all P&S cases in 2007 occurred among men having sex with men (MSM), noting that “syphilis among MSM is of particular concern because it can facilitate HIV transmission and lead to irreversible complications such as strokes, especially in those who already have HIV.” According to the CDC, “Data also suggest that an increasing number of MSM engage in sexual behaviors that place them at risk for STDs and HIV infection. Because STDs and the behaviors associated with acquiring them increase the likelihood of acquiring and transmitting HIV infection, the rise in STDs among MSM may be associated with an increase in HIV diagnoses among MSM.” According to a December 2008 report by the CDC, HIV infections continue to increase among MSM, who accounted for 53 percent of new HIV infections in 2006.
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