CDC reports record STD rates for sixth consecutive year, Springfield experts weigh
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – For the sixth consecutive year, the United States hit an all-time high for sexually transmitted diseases in 2019. CDC chart shows the jump from 1.9 million cases in 2014 to today 2 , 6 million. The most important STDs are chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. Springfield experts discussed the stellar stats as well as what we might see from 2020.
“There is no doubt that this is a public health crisis when it comes to sexually transmitted infections,” said Dr Charles Albritton, OBGYN.
Dr Albritton said he was not surprised to see the number of STDs and STIs on the rise across the country.
“What shocks me is that we are not doing a better job of bringing these infections under control,” he said.
CDC reports the largest increase from 2015 to 2019 was in cases of syphilis in newborns, which nearly quadrupled.
Albritton said when it comes to infection rates, southwest Missouri tends to mirror what’s happening nationally. He said that if a pregnant woman is infected with syphilis, she can cross the placenta and affect her baby. He said it could wreak havoc all over the body.
“It can cause problems with the liver, the development of bones. This can cause permanent damage to adult teeth, ”Albritton said.
Carla Lantz, certified midwifery nurse with Planned parenthood, said Greene County has seen an 80% increase in STI rates in recent years.
“It continues to increase. There’s no flattening to bend over there, ”Lantz said. “So it’s very important that people understand the risk, get tested and protect themselves.”
Lantz said syphilis rates had quadrupled among adults in the Ozarks. She said doctors were at a loss for trying to monitor an existing outbreak when the pandemic struck last year. That’s when testing supplies plummeted and preventative care took over. Recently, Lantz said, Planned Parenthood kicked off a new IST program to make it a priority again.
“Cover the cost of their tests, cover the cost of their treatment, and cover that for their partners as well,” Lantz said.
Lantz said the program will be available at clinics in Springfield and Joplin.
CDC reports indicate that young people between the ages of 15 and 24 account for 61% of chlamydia cases and 42% of gonorrhea cases. Dr Albritton said age group is a risk factor for STI infection rates because it’s difficult to get them to see a doctor for screenings if they don’t have any problems.
Albritton said that to slow the spread of sexually transmitted infections, patients need to limit their exposure, but doctors also have a role to play.
“Talk to them. Offer them a screening. Really educate them on what might be out there so they can think twice before making a questionable decision in the future, ”she said.
Albritton wanted patients to know they can see a doctor even if they only have questions about STIs.
Turning to 2020, Dr Albritton said the statistics could be surprising. He said he expected to see lower infection rates from spring into 2020 during lockdowns last spring. Many testing centers may have been closed and people have stayed at home. However, he predicts another potential spike in these infections considering the whole of the past year.
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