Wake Up Call: United States STD/STI Statistics

syphilis-msm

The statistics for STD infections was released and the number is high, but on the bright side so is the number of cases diagnosed (which means people are getting tested). According to the National Surveillance Data for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis, there are about 19 million new STD infections each year, which costs the US government about $15.9 billion annually. That’s a lot of money. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea were the two most common reported infections, with the largest percentage group affected by these two infections being girls between 15 and 19 years of age! That was certainly surprising to me! Second to that were young women aged 20-24 years of age.

That covers those two infections, but it’s a different story for Syphilis. This infection was on it’s way to being eliminated when it reportedly (and unfortunately) resurfaced in 2001 and it has become a serious concern once again. The group that is most infected with this one is men who have sex with men (MSM). In 2008, there were 13,500 infections reported of primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis. These are the most infectious stages of the disease. This is the highest number of cases since 1995 and an increase over 2007, which was 11,466 cases. As you probably already know, if left untreated, Syphilis can damage the heart, aorta, brain, eyes, bones, and in some cases can be fatal.

In the year 2000, only 6% of primary and secondary Syphilis cases were among gay men. Now, MSM accounts for 63% of the cases – unreal! Broken down even further, the rate of infection for Syphilis was reported to be twice as common among Hispanics, and 8 times more common among African Americans than for Caucasians. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommends that MSM get tested at least annually for Syphilis. It is treated with penicillin given by an injection.

The moral of the story is be safe people. Protect yourself and the one you’re with, and get tested regularly.