Ready, Set, GO… get tested for STDs. Seriously, don’t walk, run and get tested because for the first time since 2006, the reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are at an all-time high, with the respective rates increasing by 2.8%, 5.1% and 15.1% since 2013. Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the uncomfortable iceberg as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its 2014 STD Surveillance Report on November 17, 2015, and its findings are going to make you sweat as everything is on the rise (no pun intended).
There are a multitude of reasons why these numbers are on the up and up, but the summation is that the masses are having more unprotected sex, and with each other. Shocking I know, but how else can you explain the 1.4 million cases of chlamydia, 350,062 cases of gonorrhea and 19,999 cases of syphilis reported to the CDC in 2014? The daunting part is that these numbers are just the reported cases. The CDC has no way to track the people who are carrying these diseases and are showing no symptoms and spreading it unknowingly. Nor do the statistics include the people who have yet to be diagnosed and treated.
So are you ready to take a bad situation and make it worse? Yeah, me neither, but we have to protect ourselves before we literally wreck ourselves as a generation, and it seems the only way to do this is to become more knowledgeable about what it is we are up against. Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention opined in a statement that, “STDs affect people in all walks of life, particularly young women and men, but this data suggests an increasing burden among gay and bisexual men.”(Emphasis added.)1 Also, to add insult to injury, there is now a chance that your endorphin filled tryst may leave you with something that you cannot easily get rid of. Once upon a time, not that long ago, if you received a parting gift from a sexual partner whose names are chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis, you were diagnosed and treated with a simple antibiotic and sent on your way with a “new” clean bill of health. Well we are not in the 20th century anymore Toto, and there is now a chance that you will end up with a “Superbug” STD. One STD in particular that has mutated and has basically “hulked-up” to combat the usual course of treatment is gonorrhea. This means that even if you are diagnosed with gonorrhea and treated with antibiotics, there is still a chance that this bacterium that causes infections in the genitals, rectum, and throat can live on, be passed on and continue to wreak havoc long after you think you have been cleared.
On the brighter side, the solution to this quagmire is as simple as using a condom every time for oral, anal and vaginal sex, limit your number of sexual partners, and get tested for sexually transmitted diseases often. To be clear, often should consist of when you change sexual partners and if that is once a month, get tested once a month. No judgement here. Live your life, and enjoy it, just do it safely and responsibly. I feel like the “Smokey Bear” of sexually active Americans, but only YOU can prevent the spread of STDs! So wrap it up, every time and be sure to get tested on a regular basis.
I leave you with an overview of STD testing recommendations brought to you directly from the CDC.
Everyone between the ages of 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV.
Annual chlamydia screening of all sexually active women younger than 25 years, as well as older women with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection
Annual gonorrhea screening for all sexually active women younger than 25 years, as well as older women with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection.
Syphilis, HIV, chlamydia, and hepatitis B screening for all pregnant women, and gonorrhea screening for at-risk pregnant women starting early in pregnancy, with repeat testing as needed, to protect the health of mothers and their infants.doctor and patient
Screening at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea for all sexually active gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM who have multiple or anonymous partners should be screened more frequently for STDs (i.e., at 3-to-6 month intervals).
Anyone who has unsafe sex or shares injection drug equipment should get tested for HIV at least once a year. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).2
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2014. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2015.