CDC data shows resurgence of STDs after pandemic decline

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Disclosures: The authors do not report any relevant financial disclosures.


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STDs reappeared in the United States by the end of 2020 following a drop in reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in March and April during the first peak of COVID-19, according to a new report .

The United States has seen a record number of STD cases for 6 consecutive years through 2019, but pandemic disruptions in STD testing – among other factors – caused cases to drop in the first few months of pandemic in 2020.

Pagoa graphic
Source: Pagoa M, et al. Shemale Sex Say. 2021; doi: 10.1097 / OLQ.0000000000001506.

“When a national emergency declaration was issued for the COVID-19 pandemic on March 13, 2020, states adopted various preventive measures such as stay-at-home orders, the closure of non-essential businesses and Flexible teleworking policies in the workplace to stem the spread of covid19, ” Melissa Pagaoa, MPH, an epidemiologist with the CDC’s National Center for HIV / AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STDs and Tuberculosis Prevention, and colleagues wrote in Sexually transmitted diseases.

“These measures have potentially affected the reporting of STD cases in a number of ways, including reducing opportunities for STD-related testing and care due to temporary clinic closures, changes in sexual behavior related to social distancing and decreased case investigation due to downsizing of state and local health service staff. ,” they wrote.

To assess changes in reported STDs during the pandemic, Pagaoa and colleagues compared the weekly number of STDs reported nationally in 2020 with that of 2019. According to the study, they looked at cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and of primary and secondary syphilis reported in the United States. National Reportable Disease Surveillance System in 2020. For each STD, they compared the number of reported 2020 cases for a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) week to the number of 2019 cases reported in the same week, expressing 2020 cases as a percentage of 2019 cases.

Overall, they found that cumulative cases of chlamydia were 14% lower in 2020, gonorrhea 7% higher, and syphilis 1% higher. According to the study, during MMWR Weeks 1-11 (December 29, 2019 to March 11, 2020), the weekly number of reported STD cases in 2020 as a percentage of cases in the same week in 2019 was similar. However, the 2020 numbers were much lower than the 2019 numbers for week 15, or the week of April for chlamydia, 49.8%; gonorrhea, 71.2%; and syphilis, 63.7%.

At week 50, the cumulative totals for 2020 compared to 2019 were 14% lower for chlamydia, 7.1% higher for gonorrhea, and 0.9% lower for P&S syphilis. Pagaoa and his colleagues said the 2020 figures for gonorrhea and syphilis are on track to match and exceed 2019 totals.

“Clearly, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced uncertainty and difficulty in interpreting the number of cases for 2020. Reports of cases reported in the non-pandemic years of 2018 and 2019 highlight the striking and abnormal nature of the 2020 decline in STD case reports, ”the authors wrote. “While the introduction of vaccines has reduced cases and deaths of COVID-19, the effects of the protracted pandemic may hamper our ability to get an accurate picture of the STD epidemic in the United States beyond 2020. “



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