Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are on the rise nationally and in Tennessee, revealed by the Centers for Disease Control's Annual STD Surveillance Report, 2018. As per this report, which examines STD trends from 2014 to 2018, the rate of reportable STDs, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, has increased significantly in Tennessee and the USA.
Congenital syphilis rates have increased tremendously. Tennessee ranks 11th in all 50 US states for the highest gonorrhea cases, 17th in chlamydial infection rates, and 27th in primary and secondary syphilis rates. Moreover, the state ranked 19th for the number of congenital syphilis cases in which the state has observed a 19% increase since 2017.
The United States is currently undergoing an STD epidemic. The rising rates of STDs is a startling and shocking development. According to 2018 data released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), STD rates are at an all-time high in the country and indicate a troubling trend that intensified over the past five years, with new records being set each year. Since 2013, STD cases have been increasing in the country, with chlamydia, gonorrhea, and all staged syphilis comprising 2.4 million disease cases in 2018. Comparatively, HIV rates have remained plateaued as the case rates remained close to 39,000 infections in a year since 2013.
The three reportable STDs gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia, are capable of causing extreme harm to infected individuals as well as their partners. Lifelong pain and infertility are quite common complications of STDs, but it can also lead to severe infections, and in some cases, especially with syphilis, death or permanent is also a probability.
With the increase in the number of cases, the number of adverse health consequences will also increase. The only way to reduce this incline in STD rates is by getting tested and remaining fully aware of your sexual health status. If diagnosed at the right time, it is possible to treat most STDs and prevent them from getting transmitted to other individuals.
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According to Tennessee State Health Department's STD Surveillance Report 2018-19, during 2015–2018, the rate of reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis and the number of STD cases increased dramatically. In 2019, around 41,501 chlamydia cases, 16,183 gonorrhea cases, and 683 P&S syphilis cases were reported in the state with a rate of 607.7 cases/100,000 people, 237.0 cases/100,000 people, and 10.0 cases/100,000 people, respectively.
The number and rate of chlamydial infections in Tennessee have increased since 2015. In 2018, the state reported 14,666 gonorrhea cases and 1,730 reported syphilis cases. In 2018, according to the same report, the state recorded 38,282 chlamydia cases at a rate of 565.5 cases/100,000 people. Overall, the number and rate of syphilis cases across all stages of the disease have increased since 2014.
In 2018, the public health region reporting the highest rate of chlamydia was Shelby, with 1,044.1 cases/100,000 people, while in gonorrhea rates, Shelby recorded the highest number of cases with 465.3 cases/100,000 people. Davidson had higher rates of syphilis (P&S) at 20.2 cases/100,000 people.
According to Tennessee's health department, men accounted for 88% of P&S syphilis cases in 2018. Men who have sex with men accounted for the highest number of these cases. Out of the 553 total P&S syphilis cases, 54% or 300 cases were reported among MSM, and 9% or 33 cases were reported among men who have sex with men and women. Another startling fact revealed in the report is that in 2018, twelve cases of congenital syphilis were reported in Tennessee at a rate of 14.9 cases/100,000 live births in the state.
West Tennessee and Madison County are two regions in Tennessee state that have recorded some of the highest STDs rates in the country. Madison County's disease rate generally ranks among Tennessee's top five counties regarding chlamydia and gonorrhea. Over the past five years, there's been a significant rise in the number of syphilis cases as well.
During 2014–2018, the highest rate of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and P&S syphilis in Tennessee was reported among non-Hispanics blacks compared to non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics. Around 487 cases of P&S syphilis were reported in the male population at a rate of 14.7 cases/100,000 males. In contrast, the infection rate among females was much lower than males, with 66 cases reported at 1.49 cases/100,000 females.
In 2018, females accounted for 25,193 cases of chlamydia at a rate of 726.5 cases/100,000 females, while the rate among men was lower with 13,085 cases reported at a rate of 396.3 cases/100,000 males. The same year, around 7,962 gonorrheal infections were diagnosed among males for a rate of 216.6 cases/100,000 males, and females accounted for 6,704 cases for a rate of 193.3/100,000 females.
Furthermore, during 2018, the 20-24-year olds reported the highest rate of chlamydial infections with 14,413 cases, followed by 15-19-year olds who accounted for 10,635 cases. Moreover, 20-24-year olds reported the highest number of gonorrhea infections as well, with 1,045.9 cases/100,000 individuals. Between 2014 and 2017, the 2nd highest gonorrhea rate was observed among 15-19-year olds in Tennessee, but in 2018 this position was claimed by 25-29-year olds as this age group reported the 2nd highest rate of infection at 666.7 cases/100,000 people aged 25-29.
In 2018, Tennessee reported 144 cases of P&S syphilis among individuals aged 25-29 for a rate of 29.7 cases/100,000 25-29-year olds, followed by 20-24-year olds with 27.7 cases/100,000 people of the same age.
Within the past five years, in Tennessee, non-Hispanic blacks reported the highest chlamydia infection rate with 18,070 cases for a rate of 1,588.2/100,000 population compared to 293.8 cases/100,000 people among non-Hispanic whites and 514.9 cases per 100,000 people among Hispanics. Between 2014 and 2018, non-Hispanic blacks reported the highest rate of gonorrhea infection too, with 9,035 cases reported for 797.0/100,000 people compared to 97.1 cases/100,000 people among non-Hispanic whites and over 87 cases/100,000 people among the Hispanic population. During the same period, non-Hispanic blacks reported the highest number of P&S syphilis cases for over 25 cases per 100,000 people, followed by non-Hispanic whites who reported 4.8 cases/100,000 people, and Hispanics accounted for 6.3 cases/100,000 people.
The Tennessee Health Department reports and manages the cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and human immunodeficiency virus in West Tennessee. The department works with private physicians to report STD cases across the country and ensure optimum public safety by preventing disease outbreaks.
Individuals with known STDs or people concerned about possible exposure to an STD can request testing and treatment at the health department. The state's health department comprises staff trained in disease intervention methods and offers quality treatment, disease management and follow up counseling for STD-infected individuals. These services are carried out confidentially and at little to no cost in most scenarios.
The Tennessee Department of Health's (TDH) STD Prevention Program is an important initiative to manage the state's STD outbreak and maintain a case surveillance registry. Chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea, the three reportable STDs by law, are the department's primary focus.
Case reports of STD-infected individuals are sent to the TDH and comprise vital variables such as demographic features, treatment information, and STD risk factors. This information is stored in the department's Patient Reporting Investigation Surveillance Manager (PRISM). The annual epidemiological reports are created using this data.
The Center of Excellence project is a coordinated and standardized delivery system. It encompasses a comprehensive range of services for STD-infected individuals and their families so that they can meet their health care and psychological needs across all stages of the illness.
The State of Tennessee ensures the seamless provision of STD/HIV drug assistance and medical services as well as insurance assistance. The services are offered to eligible Tennessee residents. Eligibility criteria involve an individual's eligibility for the Ryan White Part B Medical Services Program coverage or coverage by the Insurance Assistance Program, the HIV Drug Assistance Program, etc.
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.