Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) drops their annual report on the STD rates in the U.S. This year, there is some good news: The most common STD, chlamydia, has gone down 1.5 percent overall and gonorrhea 1 percent.
Even better: African-Americans saw even greater declines with chlamydia dropping 5.2 percent and gonorrhea dropping a whopping 9.1 percent.
But before we start celebrating, let’s get to the bad news. Despite these positive efforts, African-Americans, especially young people ages 15-24, still have the highest rates and are disproportionately impacted by STDs.
When it comes to gonorrhea, Blacks accounted for a whopping 58 percent of all cases reported to the CDC, making us 12 times more likely to have this STD than our white counterparts. Black female teens 15-19 and 20-24 were 13.6 times and 10.2 times more likely to contract this STD compared to their white counterparts.
Looking at chlamydia, the most common STD in the U.S., Black women were 5.8 times more likely to contract the STD, with young women 15-19 and 20-24 bearing the brunt of this epidemic.
When it comes to Black men, the chlamydia rate was almost eight times the rate among white men (771.1 and 99.4 cases per 100,000 men, respectively). Looking specifically at Black male teens 15-19, this rate was 9.5 times that of white male teens and 5.5 times the rate among Black men 20-24 years old.
Researchers also looked at syphilis, a rare but extremely contagious STD, that was once a thought of the past, but has made a huge comeback in recent years. Blacks made up 37.3 percent of all cases reported to the CDC. This rate was 5.6 times higher than whites. Looking at gender, Black men were 5.3 times more likely to be diagnosed with syphilis than white men and Black women were a whopping 15 times more likely than white women.
So what’s going on?
The report doesn’t really explain why these numbers exist, but we do know that the lack of access to quality reproductive health care, the number of sexual partners and the need for young people to have safer sex are all factors in these rates.
But most important, young people need to be tested and treated for STDs, especially given that most STDs, especially in men, show no symptoms. So many folks are completely unaware of their status and in fact may be unintentionally infecting others.
Not to mention, being undiagnosed and untreated for STDs can bring about a range of complications that include chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy, fetal death and infertility. It can also raise your risk of contracting HIV five times over.
So take control of your health, get tested and treated for STDs and talk to your partners about your sexual past and how you will protect each other from future infections.
Learn more about preventing STDS at cdc.gov.
Follow Kellee Terrell on Twitter @kelleent.
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