Gonorrhea rates rose for the third year in a row in 2012, and syphilis rates rose a “dramatic” 11 percent, due to new infections in men, according to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The third reportable sexually transmitted disease (STD) — chlamydia — saw a relatively unchanged rate in 2012, but there were a U.S. record 1.4 million cases of the bacterial infection.
“This is the largest number of cases ever reported to the CDC for any condition,” the CDC said in its 2012 surveillance report on STDs, released Wednesday.
Overall, the CDC estimates that nearly 20 million new STD infections are acquired each year. Half of these are among people aged 15 to 24. The CDC estimates that each year, the U.S. health care system spends about $16 billion a year to address STDs.
“Rising STD rates have a major negative impact on our ability to address the HIV epidemic,” said the National Coalition of STD Directors. Men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for about 75 percent of the syphilis cases, and as many as 40 percent of MSM with syphilis are co-infected with HIV, said the organization.
Public health officials urge sexually active people, especially those with new or multiple sex partners, to seek annual STD screenings. MSM should be screened at shorter intervals if they have multiple or anonymous sex partners or partners who use illicit drugs, including methamphetamine.
According to the CDC:
• There were 1,422,976 cases of chlamydia in 2012. The rate of about 457 cases per 100,000 people was similar to 2011.
• Some 334,826 cases of gonorrhea were reported. The new rate of 108 cases per 100,000 people was 4 percent higher than in 2011.
• There were 15,667 cases of primary and secondary syphilis reported. The rate rose 11 percent since 2011, to 5 cases per 100,000 people, and was primarily due to increases among men.
• The rate of congenital syphilis fell 10 percent since 2011, to 8 cases per 100,000 live births. There were 322 cases reported in 2012.