Health officials are warning that the rise of life-threatening sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is “out of control.”
According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, STIs are on a worrying rise putting millions of people’s lives at risk from entirely preventable infections.
“STIs must be a public health priority,” the CDC warned on Tuesday.
The health agency noted that “the most alarming concerns” revolve around syphilis cases — which are at the highest level they’ve been in more than seven decades.
Reported chlamydia cases have remained at a record high level but gonorrhea cases did decline for the first time in at least a decade.
Both syphilis and gonorrhea can be deadly if left untreated for too long.
“The CDC’s latest STI data shows that our nation is facing a rapidly deteriorating public health crisis with real lives at stake,” the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD) warned in a statement on Tuesday.
The 2022 data — the most recent available — showed more than 2.5 million cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia were reported in the United States.
Late last year, Health and Human Services created the National Syphilis and Congenital Syphilis Syndemic (NSCSS) Federal Task Force in a bid to help slow the spread of the disease, but the impact has not yet been recognized.
According to the CDC data, more than 170,000 syphilis cases were reported back in 1951. The number dropped dramatically after the widespread availability of antibiotics. By 1998, annual case numbers had dropped below 40,000, before creeping up again over the past two decades.
“People are using condoms less and less frequently,” Dr. Nima Majlesi, Director of Medical Toxicology at Staten Island University Hospital, told The Post, saying that public health messages have “de-emphasized” the importance of safe sex in recent years.
STI rates have risen sharply across the country since COVID lockdown restrictions were lifted.
However, the NCSD warned that the 2022 data does not reflect the impact of the shortage of Bicillin L-A (a congenital syphilis drug) which began last spring, or last summer’s STI workforce cuts due to the debt ceiling deal.
“The reality is that the 2023 data will be worse,” the NCSD stated.