Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) rates in the U.S. have increased in the past years, states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance, 2010 publication. Across the board, syphilis infections rose 36 percent and chlamydia infections rose 24 percent. However, gonorrhea has decreased by 16 percent — an all-time low.
But when CDC researchers took a deeper look at the STI rates, they found something alarming: African-Americans and Latinos were disproportionately impacted by these infections. Among young gay and bisexual Black men syphilis had increased a whopping 135 percent. Twelve-hundred African-Americans out of 100,000 are infected with chlamydia compared to less than 200 whites out of 100,000.
Authors believe that people of color represent a large number of these infections because of the lack of health insurance, which leads to lack of screening and lack of treatment, which only exacerbates these numbers in the community. Bloomberg Business Week reported:
Blacks and Latinos are most affected by these diseases, possibly because many people don’t see a doctor until it’s too late, the study authors wrote. That may be because one in five blacks and one in three Latinos are uninsured, the authors wrote.
While the number of women screened for chlamydia doubled from 2000 to 2010, most young females still aren’t being tested, the authors wrote.
The CDC recommends annual gonorrhea screening for sexually active women who have new or multiple sex partners. Annual chlamydia screening is recommended for women under 25, and older women with new or multiple sex partners. Men who have sex with men should be tested at least once a year for syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and HIV. High-risk men should be tested every three to six months.
Young people represent half of all new STI infections in the U.S. and the authors emphasize that the consequences of these diseases being undiagnosed and untreated can last a lifetime.
—Untreated gonorrhea and chlamydia can silently steal a young woman’s chance to have her own children later in life. Each year, untreated STDs cause at least 24,000 women in the U.S. to become infertile.
—Untreated syphilis can lead to serious long-term complications, including brain, cardiovascular and organ damage. Also, syphilis in pregnant women can lead to the baby having the same infection or death for the baby.
—Untreated gonorrhea, chlamydia or syphilis increases a person's chance of contracting HIV. Given the HIV/AIDS crisis in our community, getting tested is crucial in fighting AIDS in Black America.
What’s incredibly scary about STIs is that for many people, they have no symptoms and are not tested for these infections when they go to the doctor. The CDC recommends that even if you are showing no signs, to get tested for these STIs anyway.
To learn more about STIs and the importance of getting tested for them, go to cdc.gov/std.
(Photo: Andersen Ross/Digital Vision/GettyImages)