Sexually Transmitted Diseases

February 22, 2019 • Volume 29, Issue 8
Does the surge in cases spell a crisis?
By Barbara Mantel


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.

Health education teacher Leticia Jenkins talks (AFP/Getty Images/Frederic J. Brown)
Health education teacher Leticia Jenkins talks with ninth-grade students at James Monroe High School in North Hills, Calif., about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in February 2018. Between 2012 and 2017, California saw a 45 percent rise in chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, and the United States continues to confront a flood of new STD cases. (AFP/Getty Images/Frederic J. Brown)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Sexual Behavior
Feb. 22, 2019  Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Apr. 28, 2017  Sports and Sexual Assault
Oct. 21, 2016  Pornography
Apr. 15, 2016  Decriminalizing Prostitution
Oct. 31, 2014  Campus Sexual Assault
Apr. 27, 2012  Sexual Harassment
Jan. 22, 2010  Sex Scandals
May 23, 2008  Prostitution Debate
Nov. 04, 1994  Sex on Campus
Jun. 11, 1993  Prostitution
Jul. 13, 1984  Sexual Revolution Reconsidered
Aug. 25, 1971  Legalization of Prostitution
Apr. 01, 1970  Sexual Revolution: Myth or Reality
Dec. 30, 1963  Sex on the Campus
Consumer Behavior
Infectious Diseases
Medical Research and Advocacy
Men's Health Issues
Students and Social Life
Women's Health Issues