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Elizabeth Boskey, Ph.D.

The State of Romance

By February 20, 2013

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In honor of Valentine's Day, last week the CDC released the newest report on STD surveillance in the United States. Reading it carefully might make you wonder if they were trying to take down the greeting card industry once and for all, since the news wasn't good.

The report found that there were 20 million new infections in 2011, over 110 million total infections, and 16 billion dollars spent in STD related medical costs -- and those were just for detected cases of the diseases that the government tracked. Furthermore, the rates of both gonorrhea and chlamydia climbed over the last year, although syphilis at least remained unchanged. However, that good news is tempered by the fact that it only remained the same because the number of cases went down among women to the same degree that it went up among men.

Perhaps even more depressing is who the STDs are affecting. The vast majority of new bacterial infections, more than half, occur among 15-24 year olds. Young people aren't exchanging glitter covered cards to celebrate the holiday anymore. They're exchanging infections. I think I'm going to have to go back to my old habit of referring to Valentine's Day as VD.

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