New STD Data Represent Urgent Call for Action

This illustration depicts a photomicrograph of a culture specimen processed using the Levaditi staining method, and reveals the presence of corkscrew shaped, Treponema pallidum bacteria, also known as spirochetes. T. pallidum is the cause of the sexually transmitted disease (STD) syphilis. Courtesy of CDC

The continued steep increase in incidence of sexually transmitted diseases reported in the 2018 data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday, is a cause for deep concern about dangerous gaps in our public health infrastructure, say the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA).

The data includes nearly 2.5 million cases combined of chlamydia, a disease which, when undiagnosed, threatens fertility, gonorrhea, a disease growing resistant to existing treatments, syphilis, a disease that had been in decline, and a 40 percent increase in congenital syphilis, the transmission of the infection from mother to child, carrying risks of miscarriage, death of newborn infants, and lifelong health ramifications. Together, the data stand as evidence that neglect of critical public health investments comes at a terrible cost. Contributing to raised risks of HIV infection and to increased healthcare costs, the numbers represent damaging impacts to public, as well as individual, health. Important federal efforts to end HIV as an epidemic will not succeed if the escalation of sexually transmitted disease incidence is not fully addressed.

Needs for increased funding for sexually transmitted disease prevention efforts through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for investments in improved surveillance and for attention to ensure essential public health services are accessible, are clearly spelled out in the report. The Infectious Diseases Society of America and its HIV Medicine Association will continue to call on policymakers and the administration to meet these needs.

Source: Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA)

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