What do I need to know about sexually transmitted infections in the US??

Reproductive Health

A: Some infection rates have dropped, and others have risen. Read the post to learn about important trends in this group of illnesses.

Did you know that April is Sexually Transmitted Infection Awareness Month?

Well, you do now!

In honor of this month’s national health theme and its slogan *TALK, TEST, TREAT*, we wanted to start the conversation with some facts about sexually transmitted infections in the US.

✳️ According to the CDC, there are more than 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections each year.

✳️ CDC estimates that about 20 percent of the U.S. population – approximately one in five people in the U.S. – had a sexually transmitted infection on any given day in 2018.

✳️ These rates are increasing.

✳️ More than 1.2M people are living with HIV in the US. *13% don’t know it.*

✳️ Nearly half of new sexually transmitted infections occur among young people (ages 15-24).

Some trends are going in the wrong direction.

Rates of the following are on the rise:

🔺 syphilis
🔺 babies born infected with syphilis (congenital syphilis)
🔺 gonorrhea up more than 4%
🔺 chlamydia up almost 4%
🔺 HIV cases among some groups are continuing to rise, even though for the US as a whole numbers are going down. See health equity resource below.

(Stay tuned for a future post all about syphilis!)

There are some bright spots in the STI landscape:

✳️ Almost all U.S. adults (96%) understand that sexually transmitted infections may have no symptoms but can still be passed to others, including during pregnancy and childbirth (87%)

✳️ About half of adults surveyed know that gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis are treatable conditions. Currently, we use antibiotics to treat these infections.

✳️ We have medicine to prevent HIV! It’s called PrEP!

In recent news, there’s been a court challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that may make PrEP, the medicines that prevents HIV, unaffordable for many. Given the overall burden of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, policymakers must continue to prioritize education, prevention, and treatment among teens, young adults, and other vulnerable populations.

If you have any concerns about your sexual health, now is a great time to learn more and consult with your clinician. This can be a GYN, midwife, family nurse practitioner, family doc, pediatrician, school nurse or staff at your local health clinic! Find a clinic here. And here is a guide on how to prepare for your visit.

From Leandro Mena, MD, MPH, Director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention:

“…For the first time in decades, we’re seeing promising new STI interventions on the horizon, but these alone will not solve this epidemic. It will take many of us working together to effectively use new and existing tools, to increase access to quality sexual healthcare services for more people, and to encourage ongoing innovation and prioritization of STI prevention and treatment in this country.”

We all play a role in ensuring that sexually transmitted infections are talked about, tested for, and treated!.

Stay safe and stay well!

Those Nerdy Girls

Further Resources:

Learn more about the Talk.Test.Treat. steps

Kaiser Family Foundation survey on public knowledge & attitudes about sexual health and sexually transmitted infection in the US from February 2020

Healthy People 2030 facts and objectives around sexually transmitted infection

CDC Fact Sheet on incidence, prevalence, and cost of sexually transmitted infection in the US

Information on the court challenge to preventive health services provided by the ACA

STI Health Equity

Link to Original FB Post