STD Programs decline, infections surge as budget cuts take effect
Date: January 30th, 2017
Reported STDs at Unprecedented High in the U.S
Rising cases of STDs
P&S syphilis recorded the highest increase rate between 2014 and 2015, about 19%. This was closely followed by gonorrhea at 12.8 percent and then chlamydia at 5.9 percent. The three (Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis) are the STIs that patients commonly report and have skyrocketed in recent years.
The exact figures were as follows:
Chlamydia - 1,526,658 cases
Primary & secondary syphilis - 23,872 cases
Gonorrhea - 395,216 cases
Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, said that the nation is now in a decisive moment where it needs to come up with ways to avert the trend.
“STD rates are rising, and many of the country’s systems for preventing STDs have eroded. We must mobilize, rebuild and expand services – or the human and economic burden will continue to grow.”
Budget cuts for STD programs
The government has of late reduced its expenditure on STD programs. As a result of the budget cuts in over half state and local STD programs, 2016 alone has seen 20 health departments close STD clinics. As the number of clinics decline, it also implies that the number of people accessing STD testing and treatment has reduced. These are vital services that the society cannot manage to do without.
The unfortunate decisions to cut budget are being taken with full knowledge that gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis are curable using antibiotics. Having a wider access to the screening and treatment would most definitely help curb the rise. Most individuals are continually exposed to the risk of severe health consequences like infertility, chronic pain and higher HIV risk because most STD cases remain hidden with zero diagnosis. At the same time, the STD tests and treatment continue to impose tough economic burden. According to estimates by the CDC, the healthcare system spends about $16 billion on STDs cases per year.
The high risk groups
The greatest risk continues to be faced by the young sexually active people and the bisexual men. There is also a troubling rising trend in which newborns have syphilis.
Dr. Gail Bolan, Director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, said that “The health outcomes of syphilis – miscarriage, stillbirth, blindness or stroke – can be devastating. The resurgence of congenital syphilis and the increasing impact of syphilis among gay and bisexual men make it clear that many Americans are not getting the preventive services they need. Every pregnant woman should be tested for syphilis, and sexually active gay and bisexual men should get STD tests for syphilis at least once a year.”
The CDC tries to curb the spread by providing support to local and state health departments in disease surveillance. CDC also issues and maintains testing and treatment guidelines for providers so individuals get the most effective care. It is essential to maintain and strengthen these steps being taken for an effective response to the new recent increases.