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Sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and venereal diseases (VD), are infections that are spread through sexual contact. Common types of STDs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, genital herpes, and the human papillomavirus (HPV). The spread of STDs can be prevented through abstinence, education, STD testing, vaccination, and the use of condoms. HPV is by far the most prevalent STD in the United States. In most HPV cases those infected do not show any symptoms which is one reason why the virus has become so widespread. Although HPV is usually harmless it can cause certain cancers, and for this reason the CDC recommends the HPV vaccination to preteens and everyone through the age of 26 years.

Have rates of STDs risen in the United States?

Despite the dangers of STDs being more commonplace and testing and contraception, for the most part, widely accessible in the United States, rates of gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia have all risen in recent years. For example, rates of gonorrhea reached a recent high in 2019 with 188.4 cases per 100,000 population. Rates of gonorrhea had dropped significantly in the early 1990s and remained relatively stable until around 2015 when they began to steadily increase. Rates of syphilis have followed a similar trend. Men between the ages of 25 and 29 years currently have the highest rates of syphilis, with men who only have sex with other men accounting for just over 40 percent of all syphilis cases in the United States. However, rates of chlamydia are far higher than those of gonorrhea or syphilis, with 553 cases per 100,000 population. These rates have increased steadily since the 1990s, with the states of Alaska, Mississippi, and Louisiana currently reporting the highest rates of this widespread STD.

Treatment and burden of STDs

STDs are very common and most of them are easy to treat. However, without treatment STDs can develop into serious health problems so it is important to regularly get tested if you are sexually active or think you may have an STD. Many STDs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, can be treated with antibiotics, while others, such as genital herpes and HPV, do not have cures, but medicines to treat symptoms. For this reason, it is best to prevent contracting an STD by practicing safe sex, or in the case of HPV, receiving a vaccination. Although most are preventable, STDs place a significant burden on the U.S. healthcare system, costing billions of U.S. dollars every year. Recent estimates from the CDC show that chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, all common and preventable STDs, cost the U.S. healthcare system a total of 1.1 billion U.S. dollars in direct medical costs in 2018 alone. Nevertheless, HIV remains the most costly and deadly STD in the United States.

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 31 most important statistics relating to "Sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S.".


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