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Sexually Transmitted Diseases

- February 22, 2019
Does the surge in cases spell a crisis?
Featured Report

After falling to historic lows in the early 2000s, rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are soaring to record levels. Nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2017. Experts attribute the rise to a variety of causes, including cuts in federal funding for prevention programs, a drop in condom use and the popularity of dating apps, which some health officials believe has led to an increase in unprotected sex. STD rates are highest among young people and men who have sex with other men. In addition, rates among blacks and Hispanics are higher than among whites and can reflect disparities in income, education status and access to health care. Meanwhile, researchers are seeking ways to make STD testing faster and easier. And some doctors are prescribing medicine for the sexual partners of infected patients sight unseen.

Emerging Disease

New Use for Vaccine

Possible New Drug for Gonorrhea

Testing for STDs in School

Federal Action

1879–1943Researchers unravel the mysteries of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
1955–1997Government funding for STD prevention declines.
1999–PresentHIV rate stabilizes but STD rates rise.

Has abstinence-only sex education contributed to the rise in STDs?


Leslie M. Kantor
Professor and Chair, Department of Urban-Global Public Health, Rutgers School of Public Health.


Stan E. Weed
Director, Institute for Research & Evaluation.


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