U.S. facing 'out of control' STD epidemic

"It's pretty simple. More sexually transmitted infections occur when people are having more unprotected sex."

Updated: September 20, 2022 - 11:52am

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U.S. health officials are warning of a surge in STD cases and calling for an overhaul of national prevention efforts.

"It is imperative that we... work to rebuild, innovate, and expand (STD) prevention in the U.S.," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Dr. Leandro Mena said Monday, according to the New York Post.

Some STDs, such as Syphilis, saw up to a 26% rise in case frequency in 2021, the outlet noted. National Coalition of STD Directors Executive Director David Harvey described the rise as an "out of control" situation.

Mena asserted that the CDC was working on new prevention methods and seeking to revamp its messaging on the matter. Some experts, the Post noted, attributed the rise in cases to a post-lockdown surge in sexual activity.

"It's pretty simple. More sexually transmitted infections occur when people are having more unprotected sex," said the University of Alabama's Dr. Mike Saag. After COVID, "p]eople are feeling liberated."

Monkeypox has added to the strain. Prominent among gay men, studies have shown the virus to transmit primarily through the exchange of seminal fluids, though the White House has vehemently resisted linking the virus to sexual orientation.

It has, however, conceded the need for messaging efforts to the most adversely affected communities, in this case among gay men.

"[S]ignaling to people who are in the gay, bisexual, other-men-who-have-sex-with-men communities, and also transgender people who have sex with men that it's really important to have awareness if it's circulating in the community is really a critical part of the messaging," said National Monkeypox Response Deputy Coordinator Demetre Daskalakis earlier this month.

Roughly 94% of cases known to the California Department of Public Health occurred in gay or bisexual men.

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