dumpster fires

Just When You Thought 2016 Couldn’t Get Any Worse, We Now Have Record STD Levels

Photo: Patrick Sheandell O’Carroll/PhotoAlto/Getty Images

There has been plenty of bad news this year, and yet, the upsetting headlines keep coming like the relentless flames of a dumpster fire. Here is one from today: Sexually Transmitted Disease Cases Hit New High in U.S.

Yes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that more cases of notifiable STDs were reported last year than ever before, and it’s not because the population has increased. There were 1.5 million cases of chlamydia, almost 400,000 cases of gonorrhea, and nearly 24,000 cases of syphilis. In terms of cases per 100 people, these figures represent increases of 6 percent, 13 percent, and 19 percent, respectively, since 2014 — the previous record year. (Herpes and human papillomavirus infections are not tracked by the government.)

Americans aged 15 to 24 accounted for almost two-thirds of the chlamydia cases and half of gonorrhea cases. The majority of cases of gonorrhea and syphilis were among gay and bisexual men. The CDC noted that that the increases could be due in part to the erosion of STD-prevention systems: More than half of state and local STD programs have experienced budget cuts. But it’s also possible that improvements in the treatment and prevention of HIV have led people to believe they don’t need condoms.

These infections are all treatable with antibiotics, but many people don’t show symptoms in the early stages of the diseases and might spread them unknowingly. And syphilis in pregnant women can be dangerous for their babies, possibly leading to stillbirth or death of a newborn. There were more than 400 babies born with congenital syphilis in 2015, and a doctor for the CDC told NBC News there’s no excuse for this; pregnant women should be tested and treated for STDs and tested again for syphilis in their third trimester.

Meanwhile, the CDC’s recommendations for how to deal with our raging STD problem still don’t include a suggestion that every sexually active person get tested, no matter their gender or orientation.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases Hit Record High in the U.S.