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US sees STD numbers rise for 5th straight year; 1.7 million chlamydia cases reported

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The number of sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S. has continued to rise for the fifth straight year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with officials pointing to drug use, decreased condom use and reduced access to health services as just a few of the reasons behind the spread.

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The health agency noted an increase across the three most commonly reported STDs between 2017 and 2018, wherein more than 115,000 syphilis cases were reported, more than 580,000 cases of gonorrhea were reported, and a whopping 1.7 million cases of chlamydia were reported.

In total, the CDC reported 2.5 million cases of STDs in the U.S. in 2018. It also noted cases of congenital syphilis, which is when a mother passes the STD to her baby during pregnancy, increased 40 percent from 2017 to 2018. The number of newborn deaths related to syphilis also increased 22 percent, resulting in 94 fatalities.

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“STDs can come at a high cost for babies and other vulnerable populations,” Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, said in a news release. “Curbing STDs will improve the overall health of the nation and prevent infertility, HIV, and infant deaths.”

While all three STDs can be treated with antibiotics, delayed treatment can result in transmission, or complications such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy and increased HIV risk. The agency said socioeconomic standing, as well as cuts to STD programs at the state and local level, have also contributed to the rise in illnesses.

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The agency called on health care providers to make STD screening and treatment part of standard medical care, and for state and local health departments to strengthen public health infrastructure to prevent and control STDs and provide resources to vulnerable populations.