STDs have hit a record high in the United States, a new report finds, and it’s bringing attention to an ongoing issue: decreased condom use among young people.
There were more than 2.4 million cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia across the country in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report. All are treatable by antibiotics, but “left untreated, STDs can be transmitted to others and produce adverse health outcomes such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and increased HIV risk,” explains the CDC.
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Those being affected also include babies. Congenital syphilis, which is passed from parent to tot during pregnancy, led to 94 baby deaths last year, a 22 percent jump from 2017. The disease can also cause miscarriage, stillborn, and severe lifelong physical and neurological problems.
“Curbing STDs will improve the overall health of the nation and prevent infertility, HIV, and infant deaths,” Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, said in a statement.
The new report also points out a reason for the increase in STDs is the condom use practices of young people, which has been a cause of concern for years. A 2013 study released by the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada, for example, found nearly 50 percent of sexually active college students weren't using condoms. And those between the ages of 15 and 24 account for half of the 20 million new sexually transmitted infections annually.
Health officials stress the importance of using condoms, an effective way to prevent transmission of STDs. Another solution to the issue? Making condoms available to students in schools, as the American Academy of Pediatrics started urging high schools to do in 2013 while citing STDs as a main concern.