Americans contracted a record number of sexually transmitted diseases in 2017, beating the 2016 tally-which was then an all-time high-by more than 200,000 cases, according to preliminary data revealed yesterday by the CDC.
Experts say many factors have contributed to the rapid rise, though the biggest one may be less frequent condom use.
"We are sliding backward", Jonathan Mermin, the CDC's director for HIV/AIDS, Viral, STD and TB Prevention, said. "We haven't seen anything like this for two decades".
"We used to think about what we can do with bathhouses and sex clubs to make sure people's risk was reduced", BHOC director Dan Wohlfeiler said in a Vox report last fall.
Gonorrhea cases in men almost doubled to 322,169 in 2017 compared with 2013, the CDC said.
Primary and secondary syphilis diagnoses increased 76 percent. A report has found that cases of syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea have spiked for the fourth year in a row. Chlamydia was the worst offender with 1.7 million new cases, and about 45 percent of those to contract the STD were women between the ages of 15 and 24. Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men made up nearly 70 percent of primary and secondary syphilis cases where the gender of the sex partner is known in 2017, the CDC said.
All three of the diseases are treatable but woman could suffer from permanent damage to the reproductive system and men to the prostate if not addressed. Gonorrhea is of particular concern to health experts because it is on the verge of becoming untreatable.
The CDC notes that these STDs are curable with antibiotics but often go undiagnosed and untreated, which can lead to severe health problems, including infertility. However, 2017 saw the emergence of a "super gonorrhea" that is treatment resistant, and it's not inconceivable that the other diseases could evolve to resist antibiotics as well. "We can't let our defenses down - we must continue reinforcing efforts to rapidly detect and prevent resistance as long as possible".