Public health officials are sounding the alarm over a “shocking” rise in sexually transmitted infections during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent report.
The nonprofit news service Pew Stateline reported last week that cases of congenital syphilis in newborn infants in Columbus, Ohio, rose from 7 in 2019 to 20 in 2021. So far this year, there have been 28 cases, including one that resulted in the death of a child.
Nationwide, cases of congenital syphilis increased by 184% between 2017 and 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Pew found that Americans at risk of STIs — also known as sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs — stopped getting routine health screenings during COVID-19. The pandemic and monkeypox have also “siphoned public health workers away from STI work,” the report said.
David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, calls the situation “out-of-control.”
“These are shocking numbers,” Mr. Harvey told Pew Stateline.
In April, the CDC reported that cases of gonorrhea and syphilis rose during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than half of the infections found in people aged 15-24.
The CDC’s 2020 STD Surveillance Report found cases of gonorrhea rose by 10% to 677,769 infections and primary and secondary syphilis rose by 7% to 133,945 infections since 2019.
Congenital syphilis among newborns increased by 15% from 2019 to 2,148 cases in 2020, the CDC said.