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The dirty little secret: STD increases

By Lisa Brody
News Editor
06/27/2017 - It's a dirty little secret – one no one really wants to talk about, but one that is putting our nation's teens and young adults at risk of chronic pain, infertility, lifelong health issues – and even death. It's the scourge of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), which have reached such record heights that experts believe that fully half of the population of those aged 15 to 24, which numbers about 110 million men and women in the United States, are afflicted with chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papilloma virus (HPV), HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections, with up to 20 million new infections each year.

And in the last couple of years, health officials have seen a jarring jump in infection rates.

"According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in August 2016, they had their highest numbers in recorded history of chlamydia and gonorrhea. It's very troubling," said Mary Anne Mosack, executive director of Ascend in Washington D.C.

According to the CDC, in 2016, 70 percent of those aged 15-24 who were sexually active had been infected with gonorrhea; 63 percent had been infected with chlamydia; 49 percent with HPV; 45 percent with genital herpes; 26 percent between 13 and 24 had been infected with HIV; and 20 percent had syphilis.

It was the second consecutive year where the CDC reported what they termed "alarming" and "troubling" increases in STDs in America. The CDC reports reflect numbers reported from the year prior. The 2015 report noted that chlamydia hit a record high in 2014 of 1,441,789 cases, or five out of every 1,000 people. It was also a 2.8 percent increase over 2013. Reported gonorrhea cases in 2014 rose to 350,062, which was an increase of 5.1 percent from 2013.

But the biggest shock was that primary and secondary syphilis cases had increased 15 percent from the year before, and congenital syphilis increased a full 27.5 percent. In Michigan, syphilis increased by four percent from 2015 to 2016, with a nine percent increase in males diagnosed. More disturbing is that there was an 18 percent increase in males diagnosed with syphilis aged 15 – 24, and a 23 percent increase in men who have sex with men aged 15 – 24, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

The CDC explained that syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that is divided into stages, primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary, with different signs and symptoms associated with each stage. It can cause very serious health complications when left untreated, but is simple to cure with the right treatment.

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