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Reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis have increased for the first time since 2006.

Is It Time to Declare a ‘Sexual Health Crisis’?

Reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis have increased for the first time since 2006, according to just-published data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).1

The approximately 1.4 million cases of chlamydia (456.1 cases per 100,000 population) represent the highest number of annual cases of any condition ever reported to the CDC. The number of reported cases of chlamydia rose 2.8% since 2013.

Rates of primary and secondary syphilis, which are the most infectious stages of syphilis, and gonorrhea grew as well: 15.1% and 5.1%, respectively. In 2014, there were 350,062 reported cases of gonorrhea (110.7 per 100,000) and 19,999 reported cases of syphilis (6.3 per 100,000).

"The recent sexually transmitted disease [STD] data should be a clarion call that there is a major STD problem on our hands in the United States, one that is grounds for declaring a sexual health crisis,” said William Smith, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors in Washington, DC.

According to the 2014 STD Surveillance Report, young people are still at the highest risk of acquiring an STD and most vulnerable to their damaging effects, notes Eloisa Llata, MD, MPH, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC. Young people ages 15-24 continue to represent half of the 20 million new infections each year, though they are only 25% of the sexually experienced population, states Llata. Many STDs go untreated because they often have no symptoms, she says. Individuals who are unaware they’re infected might unknowingly infect others, Llata says.

To reduce STDs, Americans must take steps to protect themselves, states the CDC. Testing and treatment, using condoms consistently and correctly, and limiting the number of sex partners are effective strategies for reducing the risk of infection in sexually active individuals. (For more information, see the February issue of Contraceptive Technology Update.”)


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2014. Atlanta: Department of Health and Human Services; 2015.