The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an alarming report on Tuesday indicating that 2016 had the highest number of sexually transmitted diseases ever recorded. More than 2 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were reported, with the impact affecting a growing number of populations.
“Increases in STDs are a clear warning of a growing threat,” Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, said in a news release. “STDs are a persistent enemy, growing in number, and outpacing our ability to respond.”
Notably, chlamydia accounted for 1.6 million of the reported cases, while 470,000 were gonorrhea and 28,000 cases were primary and secondary syphilis. While all three can be cured with antibiotics, 600 cases of congenital syphilis resulted in more than 40 deaths and severe health complications among newborns.
“Every baby born with syphilis represents a tragic systems failure,” Gail Bolan, director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, said in the news release. “All it takes is a simple STD test and antibiotic treatment to prevent this enormous heartache and help assure a healthy start for the next generation of Americans.”
While both men and women saw an increase in gonorrhea cases, researchers saw the greatest increase among males, particular gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. The CDC called the trend alarming in light of the growing threat of drug resistant strains of gonorrhea.
As a result, the CDC is calling for an increase in efforts to strengthen the congenital syphilis response and improved diagnosis and treatment of pregnant women, as well as help for rapid testing for drug-resistant gonorrhea on the state and local levels. Officials also called on health care providers to incorporate STD screening and testing into standard practice, especially for pregnant women and men who have sex with other men.