Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that sexually transmitted diseases continue to surge in the U.S.
The data reveals that STDs continue to surge “with no signs of slowing,” rising from 2,400,000 infections to 2,500,000 throughout the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a 26% rise in new syphilis infections throughout 2021, the highest rate since 1991.
The highest rates of syphilis are among men who have sex with other men, and in black, Hispanic, and Native Americans, according to the CDC. The rates are lower for women, but rates of congenital syphilis — when a mother passes the disease to their baby — soared from approximately 300 cases 10 years ago to nearly 2,700 in 2021.
“It is imperative that we … work to rebuild, innovate, and expand (STD) prevention in the U.S.,” the CDC’s Dr. Leandro Mena said at a conference Monday. He noted that the 211 cases of congenital syphilis in 2021 led to stillbirths and infant deaths.
HIV cases also rose 16% in 2021, causing concern among experts. Executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, David Harvey, said the soaring rates of STDs are “out of control.
Experts have urged the use of condoms to help prevent the spread of potentially deadly diseases.
“People are feeling liberated,” University of Alabama’s Dr. Mike Saag said, suggesting that there may have been a surge in sexual activity as people came out of COVID-19 lockdowns.
Mena pushed for reducing the stigma around STDs, as well as broadening screening and treatment services, including at-home testing.