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  • Ryan Wittler

STDs Surged During the First Year of the Pandemic


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A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the U.S. experienced an increase in cases of gonorrhea and syphilis during the first year of the pandemic.


Report highlights:


The CDC found cases of gonorrhea rose 10% in 2020 compared to their 2019 levels, representing a 45% increase from 2016.

  • Cases of primary and secondary syphilis also rose 7% from 2019 levels, up 52% from 2016.

  • Syphilis among newborns (i.e., congenital syphilis) rose by nearly 15% from 2019, a staggering 235% increase from 2016 levels.


Cases of chlamydia actually declined by 13% from 2019 levels, though the CDC attributes the decline to a lack of testing, rather than an actual reduction in new infections.

  • The same underdiagnosis issue also led to an overall decrease in reported cases of STDs from 2.5 million in 2019 to 2.4 million in 2020.


Why it matters:


The CDC says that STDs are decreasing among many groups, however, it also pointed to data that shows certain racial and ethnic minority groups, gay and bisexual men, and young Americans continue to experience higher rates of infections.


“This trend shows that longstanding factors, such as lack of access to regular medical care, discrimination, and stigma, continue to stand in the way of quality sexual healthcare for everyone who needs it,” according to the CDC.


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