- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The burden of sexually transmitted disease shifted slightly in 2013, with the first reported decline in one STD, but a significant increase in another, the federal government said Tuesday.

Some 1.4 million cases of chlamydia were reported in 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in its new STD surveillance report.

This marked the first time a decline has been reported in chlamydia, the CDC said, noting that the infection rate fell around 1 percent to 446.6 per 100,000 people in the last year.

Chlamydia is monitored because it can be hard to detect, and can cause severe scarring and other complications in people’s reproductive organs if untreated.

The next most commonly reported STD — gonorrhea — was relatively stable, with 333,004 cases reported and a rate of 106.1 per 100,000 people.

For syphilis, the third most common reported STD, some 17,375 cases were reported in 2013. This translates into a rate of 5.5 per 100,000 people, an increase of 10 percent from 2012.

This national rate increase of syphilis was only among men, particularly gay and bisexual men, the CDC said.

Each year, an estimated 20 million new STD infections are believed to occur in the United States, the CDC said. These include cases of genital herpes, human papillomavirus and other infections that are not routinely reported to the government.

The CDC also tracks HIV/AIDS, and reported this summer that the rate of new HIV cases has been slowly declining in the last five years; there were 47,989 new HIV cases in 2012, with a rate of 15.3 per 100,000 people.

As with other STDs, young adults and gay and bisexual men are overrepresented in the HIV caseload, the CDC said.

The federal agency and other public health officials recommend regular STD testing and screenings, such as Pap test, for people who are or have been sexually active.

• Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.

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