The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released their latest STD surveillance report, and the results aren't good. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis cases are all on the rise—and in New York, the rate of reported STD cases has surpassed national averages.
According to the report, there were more reported STD cases in 2015 than in any previous year in U.S. history, and there are an estimated 20 million new STD cases each year. Nearly a century ago, gonorrhea rates were at an all-time low, syphilis was nearly eliminated, and chlamydia cases were on a steady decline.
In the past year, chlamydia cases have risen by 5.9 percent nationwide, gonorrhea rose by 12.8 percent, and primary and secondary syphilis rose by 19 percent. In New York, the breakdown was a little different: chlamydia cases have risen by 4.9 percent, gonorrhea is up by 23.1 percent, and syphilis is up by 9.3 percent statewide.
Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis—the three STDs most prevalent among American adults—are all curable with antibiotics, but most infections go undiagnosed and untreated, especially in marginalized communities. When untreated, these STDs can result in infertility, blindness, stillbirth, or stroke and can facilitate HIV transmissions.
"STD prevention resources across the nation are stretched thin, and we're beginning to see people slip through the public safety net," Dr. Jonathan Mermin, the director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention said in a statement. Earlier this year, the CDC warned of emerging strains of gonorrhea that are resistant to antibiotics.
Young people are especially at risk: those between the ages of 15 and 24 accounted for nearly two-thirds of all chlamydia diagnoses and half of all gonorrhea diagnoses in the past year. Most new gonorrhea and syphilis cases were among gay and bisexual men, but rates of all STDs are also increasing for women.
The data also suggests that New York's population is afflicted with chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea at a higher rate than the national average. Statewide, 390 out of every 100,000 adults have chlamydia, 40 have syphilis, and 199 have gonorrhea (compared to 305, 23, and 124 per 100,000 nationwide, respectively).
In Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx, 1,487 adults have syphilis; 16,534 have gonorrhea; and 61,184 have chlamydia. (The CDC's report included data for the top 70 counties for each rate—Staten Island didn't make the cut. Good job, SI!).
The CDC attributes the rising rates to nationwide budget cuts that have resulted in more than 20 STD clinic closures in the past year alone. A report released last year by ACT UP NY and the Treatment Action Group showed that a decrease in funding in New York City has led to a decline in testing STD testing throughout the city.
That said, the city does offer low- to no-cost STD and HIV testing services throughout the city. See a list here, and be sure to get tested when you can.