Just when we thought cases of STD’s were declining, it turns out the exact opposite is true. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently posted a health alert. Sexually transmitted diseases have reached an all-time high in the US.
Is History Repeating Itself?
Sexually transmitted diseases have existed for centuries. For some, we’ve found a cure or a vaccine. For others, there is no vaccine, only medicine to keep the virus from spreading and potentially causing death.
Syphilis, for example, has been around for at least 500 years. One of the first written records of an outbreak occurred in Italy around 1494. (They claim it came from the French when they invaded.) Another historical medical illustration showed people in Vienna around that time suffering from a syphilis outbreak.
It wasn’t until the invention and use of penicillin in the US in the 1940s, that many diseases became treatable. Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are also treatable with antibiotics, if caught in time. Those diseases, along with syphilis, left untreated leave a person at higher risk for contracting HIV, reproductive disorders, blindness, and blood infections.
Transmittable Diseases on the Rise
Just because many of our current STD’s can be treated, doesn’t mean you’ll get treatment. In a multitude of cases, people don’t present symptoms or don’t know they have a disease until something health-wise goes horribly wrong.
One of the many scary statistics is that one in eight people don’t know they have HIV. Currently, there are more than 1.2 million people in the US are living with the virus.
In October of 2016, the CDC published that STD cases are growing. In 2015, there were more than 1.5 million cases of Chlamydia, almost a half-million cases of gonorrhea, and about 25,000 cases of syphilis. With some diseases, these figures were almost a 20% increase in cases from just the previous year!
The most common STD in the US is genital herpes. Approximately one in six people between the ages of 14 and 49 have it. It is contagious and incurable.
Why is This a Problem?
This is a problem because these are preventable illnesses. Primarily, it causes potentially extreme health hazards to innocent individuals. Those who’ve contracted herpes or HIV must live with the virus daily, for the rest of their lives.
Additionally, each year (just in STD care), it costs the American medical system over 16 billion dollars.
To reiterate the dilemma, there are over 110 million men and women in the US who currently have (or have recently contracted): chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, HPV, syphilis, HIV, and/or trichomoniasis.
What Can We Do to Help Others and Ourselves?
According to the CDC, “America’s youth shoulder a substantial burden of these infections.” They estimate that half of all new STDs occur among teens and young men and women.
Prevention awareness and services seem to be at an all-time low. The director for the National Center for HIV/AIDS says we must, “mobilize, rebuild, and expand services or the numbers will continue to expand.”
Adults should endeavor to learn about STDs wherever they can. Doctors should help educate parents and youngsters. Parents can help inform their teens. Teens should support their peers with information.
Keeping yourself, your children, and others in your community disease-free is a priority. Spreading awareness, educating, and practicing prevention is a phenomenal step towards reducing these numbers—and helping the health of our country.