The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in its 2015 STD Surveillance Report, revealed startling new findings on the rate of sexually transmitted diseases across the United States and the state of Connecticut.
Reportedly, the rate of the three most common STDs, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, has dramatically risen during the past few years. However, the rate has increased ever since and reached an all-time high during 2017-2018. In Connecticut, the CDC report revealed 2,088 cases of gonorrhea, 13,126 chlamydia, and 92 primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis cases were reported in 2015.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are among the most common infections reported in the United States. According to the CDC, over 19 million men and women are impacted by STDs every year. The overall medical costs due to STDs incidence are estimated to be $14 billion per year.
In the USA, STDs are more prevalent among young adults and teenagers aged 15-24. Moreover, people from all ethnicities, races, and backgrounds are affected by STDs every year. Some STDs affect certain minority groups, such as African-Americans are 18 times more susceptible to contracting gonorrhea than whites. Similarly, females tend to be impacted more severely by STD-related health outcomes than males.
According to the 2015 statistics, Americans aged 15-24 accounted for around two-thirds of chlamydial infections in the country and half of gonorrhea cases. The rate of syphilis diagnoses in females increased by a whopping 27% between 2014 and 2016, while cases of congenital syphilis rose by 6% in the country. Men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for most new gonorrhea and P&S syphilis cases.
Keeping these facts in mind, it becomes essential to keep track of your sexual health. CDC recommends that every sexually active individual make STD testing a part of their annual medical checkup.
"It is important for people to know their risk and to get themselves tested. All three of these diseases can be asymptomatic but still be transmitted to others and cause long term health complications. Fortunately, these are all infections that can be treated when caught early," suggested the coordinator of the Sexually Transmitted Diseases Program at the Department of Public Health (DPH), Dr Lynn Sosa.
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In 2015, CDC ranked Connecticut 42nd in chlamydia rates, 41st in gonorrhea rates, and also 41st in P&S syphilis rates out of the 50 US states. This indicates that the prevalence of STDs in Connecticut is relatively low compared to other states. However, a comparative analysis of STD statistics between 2015 and 2018 reveals that the cases rise every year.
Compared to the 2015 rates noted above, Connecticut reported a high number of STD cases. In 2016, 1,598,354 chlamydia cases were reported in the state marking a 4.7% increase from 2015, gonorrhea cases increased by 18.5% with 468,514 cases, and syphilis rate rose by 17.6% with 27,814 cases. According to DPH, in 2017, the state recorded 17,750 cases, 16,732 in 2018, and 15,920 in 2019.
Reportedly, there were 14,028 chlamydia cases reported in Connecticut in 2017, which is around 759 more than the number of cases reported in 2015. Furthermore, the state observed a 5.7% rise in chlamydial infections. Regarding gonorrhea, the state recorded 2,745 cases, around 653 more than in 2015 and a 31% rise. Syphilis cases were around 111, which is 12% high from 2015-16.
According to the DPH, in Connecticut, gonorrhea cases rose by 37% between 2013 and 2017, syphilis cases doubled from 10 cases in 2013 to 56 cases in 207, and chlamydia cases rose by 39%.
Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport reported the highest rates of STDs in 2016. Hartford reported 1,680 chlamydia cases, 415 gonorrhea cases; New Haven reported 1,125 chlamydia and 260 gonorrhea cases, and Bridgeport recorded 1,254 chlamydia and 314 gonorrhea cases.
Adolescent and young adult females are more vulnerable to STIs than males. In Connecticut, chlamydia is twice as common among females compared to males. Gonorrhea, however, used to be more common among women but is now more prevalent among males, particularly MSM. Syphilis is around eight times more common in men than women, and mostly MSM are impacted by this STD.
According to Connecticut's STD Control Program statistics, in 2014, around 752 non-Hispanic whites were diagnosed with chlamydia at a rate of 30 cases/100,000 population. On the other hand, African-Americans accounted for 1,997 of all chlamydia cases in Connecticut, at a rate of 532 cases/100,000 population. The third most impacted racial group was Hispanics, who reportedly accounted for 1,022 cases of chlamydia at a rate f 189.6 cases/100,000 population.
While Connecticut's cases of STDs are lower than other US states, it is crucial to understand that STDs are impacting specific populations disproportionately in Connecticut. Most chlamydia and gonorrhea cases are identified among males and females below 25 years of age. For syphilis, the most affected group is men who have sex with men and pregnant women. Since 2015, there have been several congenital syphilis cases in the state as well. In 2018, 2 such cases were reported in Connecticut.
The Department of Public Health in Connecticut is increasing its efforts to ensure healthcare providers report STD incidences responsible. The DPH focuses on increasing awareness about safe sex practices among people aged 15-24. This is the most affected population group in the state and accounts for the highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Some of the key tasks of DPH include screenings in high schools, particularly those having school-based health facilities. Additionally, screenings are performed at colleges, and educational programs are organized across the state. The DPH mandates reporting of five common STDs, namely chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, neonatal herpes, and chancroid. All of these can be treated if diagnosed at the right time.
The Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) Control Program is an important initiative from the DPH to curb the growing rates of STDs in Connecticut. The mission of this program is to reduce the occurrence of STDs via disease surveillance, outbreak/case investigation, preventive therapy, and screening. Moreover, the program focuses on expanding access to preventive therapies, diagnoses and outreach, and improving education and case management facilities regarding STDs.
The Get Tested campaign started by Bridgeport's health and social services department is one of the many initiatives the state government took up to encourage people to get tested for STDs. This campaign promoted STD clinic hours and the significance of testing for STDs.
Most people experience feelings of hesitation when going to get tested for STD, despite knowing they might have contracted one. EasySTD was created to change that.
Visit your nearest lab or clinic, order your home testing kit online, and follow the given instructions from an STD testing provider.
After ordering your STD test, visit the testing center to get tested or take a self sample including urine, cotton swab, or finger prick with the home testing kit and mail it back.
Receive the lab-certified results of your STD test from your test provider via mail or phone within 2 to 3 days. If the test comes positive, consult your doctor immediately.