The US saw record numbers of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in 2017 - as nearly 2.3 million cases of gonorrhea, chlamidya and syphilis were reported, marking the fourth straight year of sharp increases, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
What's more - the CDC is now warning that antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea is now spreading, while prevention efforts have stagnated as people use condoms less frequently.
Via the CDC:
- Gonorrhea diagnoses increased 67 percent overall (from 333,004 to 555,608 cases according to preliminary 2017 data) and nearly doubled among men (from 169,130 to 322,169). Increases in diagnoses among women — and the speed with which they are increasing — are also concerning, with cases going up for the third year in a row (from 197,499 to 232,587).
- Primary and secondary syphilis diagnoses increased 76 percent (from 17,375 to 30,644 cases). Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) made up almost 70 percent of primary and secondary syphilis cases where the gender of the sex partner is known in 2017. Primary and secondary syphilis are the most infectious stages of the disease.
- Chlamydia remained the most common condition reported to CDC. More than 1.7 million cases were diagnosed in 2017, with 45 percent among 15- to 24-year-old females.
"We are sliding backward," said Jonathan Mermin, director of the agency’s national STD center. "It is evident the systems that identify, treat and ultimately prevent STDs are strained to near-breaking point."
According to the CDC, while most cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are curable with antibiotics, most cases go undiagnosed and untreated, increasing the risks of infertility, stillbirth, and an increased risk of contracting HIV.
Treatment options for gonorrhea are now limited to the antibiotic ceftriaxone - as the diseas has become resistant to nearly every other class of antibiotic. Doctors will usually prescribe a single shot of ceftriaxone with an oral dose of azithromycin, another antibiotic. Call it a benefit to big pharma thanks to the "sharing economy."
“We expect gonorrhea will eventually wear down our last highly effective antibiotic, and additional treatment options are urgently needed,” said Gail Bolan, director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention.