Because the news cycle never stops, it can be easy for even the most intelligent and dedicated individuals to get swept up in the “story of the day,” and miss out on important developments in the meantime. Worrying economic developments, international affairs, and the direction of domestic politics should concern every citizen. However, there’s a pressing health crisis that is affecting millions of Americans with relatively little press coverage. No, we’re not talking about a bird flu, swine flu, or zika virus –– we’re talking about the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
According to the CDC, several common STDs have increased in prevalence in dramatic ways over the past few years. Syphilis and gonorrhea diagnoses have increased 76 and 67 percent respectively, and chlamydia remains the most common STD with over 1.7 million diagnoses in 2017.
In addition, experts estimated that as recently as 2015 15% of individuals with HIV (a little more than a million in total) hadn’t been diagnosed properly. Any way you slice it, STD rates are on the rise. But why? And what can be done to address this issue?
Increase in STD Rates
One of the principal reasons that STDs have become so widespread is the misinformation surrounding them. Many individuals simply do not understand the nature of these infections, and, as a result, they don’t know how to deal with them. Furthermore, fewer and fewer young people are visiting their doctors with regularity.
However, the rise in STD rates is only partially down to misinformation and widespread misunderstanding. Another (potentially even more) concerning reason for the increase in STD rates is down to the ever-more resistant nature of the infections. Indeed, certain strains of STDs like gonorrhea and chlamydia are becoming resistant to antibiotic treatments. As a result, these “super STDs” are much more difficult to treat and manage effectively.
Dangers of STDs
STDs vary in the threats they pose. Yet, even the most “innocuous” STDs can cause severe pain and even infertility. Frighteningly, those individuals who contract an STD once are also much likelier to contract an STD again. In the worst case scenarios, STDs can lead to grave conditions like paralysis, blindness, and death.
Though STDs affect millions of Americans every year, many are still unaware of the threat they pose and/or how to deal with them should they exhibit warning signs. Fortunately, there are a few ways to protect oneself from the dangers of STDs. First, practicing safe sex dramatically reduces the possibilities of transmission. Second, regular STD screening will allow medical professionals to identify and treat STDs in the early stages of development. And third, individuals who educate themselves –– and their loved ones –– will understand how to respond appropriately to the threat STDs present.
Disclaimer: This content does not necessarily represent the views of IWB.