Sexually Transmitted Disease Rates Still on Rise

Article excerpt

Rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis increased in the United States during the past year and continued recent upward trends, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Young women, racial and ethnic populations, and men who have sex with men are particularly hard hit by these diseases," Dr. John M. Douglas Jr., director of the CDC's Division of Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention, said in a teleconference sponsored by the CDC.

All three diseases are treatable, especially if diagnosed early. If left untreated, the severe health consequences include pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, increased risk for HIV infection, organ damage, and death. The direct medical costs associated with STDs in the United States were estimated at nearly $15 billion in 2006, the researchers stated in the report, "Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2006," which was presented in the telebriefing.

Of the three diseases, the increased chlamydia rates represent the greatest public health impact, Dr. Douglas said.

The national rate of reported cases of chlamydia increased by 5.6% from 2005 to 2006, from 329.4 cases per 100,000 persons in 2005 to 347.8 cases in 2006.

Chlamydia hits hardest among adolescent girls and young women--the highest chlamydia rate was reported in young women aged 15-19 years (2,863 cases per 100,000 persons), followed by women aged 20-24 years (2,797 cases). And racial disparity is high: The chlamydia rate among black women was more than seven times higher that of white women and more than twice as high as that of Hispanic women.

Given the high rate of chlamydia in young women, the CDC recommends screening sexually active women younger than 26 years. Chlamydia screening is also advised for older women with new or multiple sex partners. Based on recent evidence that chlamydia reinfection can occur in women whose partners remain untreated, the CDC's treatment guidelines include retesting patients 3 months after treatment. …