Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in the United States. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that in 2016 Americans contracted over 2 million new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis — the highest number ever reported.
Of the 2 million new diagnoses last year, 1.6 million were for chlamydia, 470,000 for gonorrhea, and 28,000 for syphilis. These are the only three STDs physicians are required by law to report to the CDC. And while all three can be cured with antibiotics, their symptoms can often go unnoticed. If left untreated, the CDC warns, they can lead to “infertility, life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth in infants, and increased risk for HIV transmission.”
Experts attribute the sudden spike to a variety of factors, including an increase in the use of dating apps like Tinder and Bumble. As David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, told CNN: “Several factors are fueling the STD epidemic. Funding cutbacks for prevention, education and healthcare programs, an on-going debate about sex education for young people, with cutbacks in that arena, particularly from this administration, and a rise in social media dating apps have all contributed to the rise.”
These three diseases can also lack obvious symptoms, which means people are less likely to get tested for them and more likely to spread them.
“The fact that so many of these diseases are asymptomatic, [with] few tell-tale signals, mean that men and women aren’t getting into their doctor to be tested,” said Gail Bolan, director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention. “We need to get the word out that everyone needs a yearly checkup.”