New state STD data shows syphilis and gonorrhea cases continued to rise during pandemic

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – When it comes to health and infections, the United States has a growing problem that has nothing to do with the coronavirus – sexually transmitted diseases, especially gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia .

A new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has ranked the 50 states according to the frequency of different venereal or sexually transmitted diseases among state populations. The data also gave public health experts new insight into what happened during the pandemic, showing that some STD rates dropped in the early months of 2020 but eventually rose above pre-COVID levels at the end of the year.

While data from the CDC’s main report is based on infections in 2020, preliminary data from 2021 shows the problem isn’t going away, but the health agency said some diseases, such as syphilis, are spreading.

In an alarming trend, cases of congenital syphilis, in which an infection passes from mother to baby during pregnancy, jumped 235% from 2016, the CDC noted. Health experts say the surge in cases was linked to mothers not receiving timely prenatal care or syphilis testing during the pandemic. While only 24 states reported at least one case of congenital syphilis in 2011, that number jumped to 47 in 2020.

Here are the top 10 states for congenital syphilis in 2020:

Rank State Case Rate per 100,000 live births
1 New Mexico 42 182.9
2 Arizona 120 151.2
3 Texas 561 148.6
4 Nevada 46 131.2
5 Oklahoma 53 107.8
6 California 481 107.7
7 Louisiana 63 106.9
8 Mississippi 37 101.0
9 Alaska 8 81.4
ten Hawaii 12 71.4

Gonorrhea cases also increased by 45% from 2016 to 2020, while syphilis cases increased by 52%.

“Reported gonorrhea rates have increased 111% since the historic low in 2009,” the CDC reported. “In 2019-20, the overall rate of reported gonorrhea increased by 5.7%.” They said the number of reported cases increased primarily in males from 2009 to 2013. The number of cases increased in 36 states, according to the CDC.

Check out the top 10 states for gonorrhea rates in 2020:

Rank State Case Rate per 100,000
1 Mississippi 13,773 462.8
2 Louisiana 15,483 333.1
3 Caroline from the south 16,705 324.4
4 Alabama 14,426 294.2
5 Oklahoma 11,204 283.1
6 Missouri 16,855 274.6
7 South Dakota 2,424 274.0
8 Alaska 1,982 270.9
9 Tennessee 18,458 270.3
ten North Carolina 28,258 269.4

Chlamydia infections have fallen 1.2% to 1.6 million cases in the United States since 2016, but that may not reflect an actual reduction in infections, according to the CDC.

“Because chlamydia infections are usually asymptomatic, case rates are strongly influenced by screening coverage,” the report said. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, many health care clinics have limited in-person visits to patients with symptoms or closed completely, and it is likely that preventive health care visits where STD screening has generally held, as annual reproductive health visits for young women, decreased.”

The CDC said the report “is a reminder that STDs remain an important public health concern, even in the face of a pandemic.

The increase in syphilis cases, despite a proven and effective method of treatment and prevention, has caused concern from the CDC. In 1999, the CDC reported that it would be possible to “eliminate syphilis” from all of the country’s borders. The report noted that the majority of infections at the time were in the South.

Trends reported more than 20 years ago still hold true, as shown by the number of Southern states in the top 10 for syphilis and congenital syphilis.

Following the CDC’s April 12 release of the data, some reactions were mixed, especially from advocates looking at President Joe Biden’s budget plan.

The National Coalition of STD Directors, a national public health organization representing directors of health departments and their staff, urged the US government to increase the CDC’s budget to help fight the spread of disease in the report, among other things. .

“This confirms yet again that America is not taking the STD crisis seriously,” said David C. Harvey, executive director of the NCSD. “We can only fight this spiraling epidemic with new funding and the kind of urgency that reflects the enormity of this crisis.”

The NCSD has been tracking how COVID-19 has affected the ability to track the spread of disease in the United States during the pandemic. It’s a problem the CDC also acknowledged when releasing STD surveillance data.

“In 2020, COVID-19 significantly affected STD surveillance and prevention efforts,” the CDC said. “This report reflects the realities of a strained public health infrastructure, while simultaneously providing the most up-to-date data on reported cases of STDs in the United States.”

The NCSD said the challenges of the pandemic have led to disruptions in testing and healthcare access in communities battling STDs. They said the illnesses impacted young people ‘profoundly’ and added to a ‘dramatic rise in congenital syphilis’. When the president released the budget plan for the coming fiscal year, the organization said keeping the CDC’s STD budget stable or unchanged would not help address the rising trend in infections in the states. -United.

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