The U.S. saw a record number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases in 2017, marking the fourth straight year of sharp increases in gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC report shows nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis were diagnosed in the U.S.in 2017. It's less clear whether dating apps, like Tinder, have contributed in some way to the spread of STDs, though some researchers think they have.
To put it bluntly, as Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, did in a CDC press release: "We are sliding backward". One CDC director says there have been "steep and sustained increases" in sexually transmitted diseases over the past five years, a "very concerning" trend that hasn't been seen in two decades. This figure was boosted by a 45 percent increase among 15-24-year-old females.
Increases in gonorrhea among women "are also concerning", said the CDC report, with cases going from 197,499 to 232,587 in a single year from 2016-2017.
"They realize that their sites could be stigmatized for being associated with STDs".
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Primary and secondary syphilis diagnoses increased 76 percent. Almost 70 percent of syphilis cases were in gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men, the report said.
Of these, 555,608 cases of gonorrhea represented a 67 percent uptick in the same time period. The diseases can be treated with antibiotics, but gonorrhea has become resistant to almost every class of antibiotics except ceftriaxone.
The diseases are soaring among heterosexual men along with pregnant women and their babies, according to the report.
But often, the infections go undiagnosed and untreated, and may lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth in infants, and increased HIV risk.
"We expect gonorrhea will eventually wear down our last highly effective antibiotic, and additional treatment options are urgently needed", Bolan said.