STDs in US hit record high, pandemic is responsible for worsening situation

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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – For the sixth year in a row, sexually transmitted diseases in the United States have reached an all-time high, especially for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. While the most recent CDC data is from 2019, health experts fear the COVID-19 pandemic will make it harder to test people. Eyewitness News spoke with a local nonprofit testing center who said that while it had not seen a decrease in the number of people coming for testing, it was seeing an upward trend for testing positive.

It’s been a different year for Wichita’s STD testing center, Positive Directions in 2020.

“Our normal game plan is to have outreach activities, participate in community health fairs, special events that we organize and in partnership with different community organizations,” said Brett Hogan, CEO of Positive Directions.

Hogan said that although the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the testing center from reaching people during these events, testing has not declined.

“As the pandemic grew and we got deeper into the summer, we weren’t seeing a drop in those numbers. We’re seeing increases, and it’s not just individuals who want the tests. These are also people who have tested positive, ”he said.

He said the pandemic had a big effect on positive tests.

“We were all in the spirit of ‘not spreading COVID’ as we all spread STIs, unfortunately,” Hogan said.

He said that over the past six years there has been an increase in sexually transmitted infections across the country, but in the Midwest, syphilis has been a big problem.

“Now it’s pretty much hit the general population, it’s over there,” Hogan said. “It’s hit here in the Midwest like an epidemic, and that’s another thing we’ve been keeping quiet, unwittingly. We were so focused on COVID and all that other stuff, and syphilis still has that stigma.

He said people don’t realize how easy it is to get treatment for a disease like syphilis.

“We have seen a massive increase in recent years in positive cases of syphilis. It’s easy. It’s penicillin. We can get rid of it very quickly, ”Hogan said.

He said that with things returning to normal as millions of people are vaccinated against COVID-19, it is especially important that people get tested for STDs. Positive Directions tests people for free, but those who want to get tested must make an appointment.

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