Infections in the US from three sexually transmitted diseases reached a record high in 2018 – a high that threatens millions of Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to a CDC's 2018 STD Surveillance Report In the United States, combined cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia reached an all-time high of more than 2.4 million cases last year.
Last year, more than 1.75 million cases of chlamydia were reported, the most reported by the CDC, according to the report. Cases of primary and secondary syphilis – the two most infectious stages –
A total of 583,405 gonorrhea cases were reported, an increase of 63% since 2014 and the highest reported figure in 28 years.
The CDC on Tuesday warned of the increase in cases of congenital syphilis – a disease that is transmitted from an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy. The agency cited a 40% increase in congenital syphilis from 2017 to 2018 as "a dangerous trend" and said that syphilis in newborns is a tragic episode of what it describes as a growing STD epidemic, up from 77 deaths in 2017 94 deaths in 2018. Five states – Texas, California, Florida, Arizona and Louisiana – accounted for 70 percent of all cases of congenital syphilis last year.
To reduce the number of babies Health officials born with syphilis say it is important to test pregnant women. Without early and regular antenatal care, a pregnant woman may not know that she has syphilis, and there is a risk that her baby will be unknowingly endangered. If a pregnant woman remains untreated, there is a likelihood of up to 80 percent that she passes it on to her baby. Congenital syphilis can lead to lifelong health complications in the unborn child and to the death of the newborn.
"There are tools available to prevent any case of congenital syphilis," said Gail Bolan, M.D., director of the CDC's Department of STD Prevention, in a statement to the CDC. "Testing is easy and can help women protect their babies from syphilis – a preventable disease that can have irreversible consequences."
The CDC gives a handful of possible explanations for increasing STD rates. These include the lack of condoms for sexually active people, drug use and poverty, as well as limited resources resulting from cuts in STD programs and the closure of clinics at state and local levels.
Antibiotics can cure syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia, but the diseases must be caught early and not left untreated. The CDC warned that many cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis "continue to be undiagnosed and unreported".
Some sexually transmitted diseases become resistant to antibiotics that were previously used to treat them. Over the years, gonorrhea has become resistant to virtually every class of antibiotic used against it. According to the CDC, ceftriaxone (Rocephin) is currently the only antibiotic in the US that has high efficacy against gonorrhea in 2020.