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In 2009, What Were the STD Statistics?

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Updated February 03, 2014

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Question: In 2009, What Were the STD Statistics?
Every year, the CDC releases an STD Surveillance report that discusses the STD statistics from the previous year and how they reflect upon the sexual health of the nation. However, it is important to recognize that these numbers probably represent only a fraction of actual number of STD infections that currently exist in the U.S. Not everyone gets screened, and there are good reasons that scientists call STDs the hidden epidemic.
Answer:

2009 Gonorrhea Statistics

Gonorrhea rates continue to decline across the board. However, the disease still disproportionately affects young men and women of color.

  • There are 99.1 reported cases of gonorrhea for every 100,000 people. This is the lowest number since the CDC started tracking prevalence in 1941, and a 10 percent decline since 2008.
  • Unfortunately, gonorrhea rates are declining more slowly in certain minority populations. Since 2006, the rates are down 25 percent in whites but only 15 and 21 percent in blacks and Hispanics respectively.
  • Although blacks make up only 14 percent of the U.S. population, they report 71 percent of gonorrhea cases, and gonorrhea rates are highest in young black women. There are 2,613.8 cases for every 100,000 black women aged 15-19.
  • Gonorrhea rates are also disproportionately high in American Indians/Alaska Natives 113.3 cases per 100,000 individuals.
  • The lowest gonorrhea rates were seen in the Asian/Pacific Islander population 18.1 cases per 100,000.

2009 Chlamydia Statistics

Reported chlamydia cases are up three percent from last year, but the CDC considers this good news. They think that the increase is due to improvements in screening rather than a higher number of new infections.

  • There were 409.2 reported chlamydia cases for every 100,000 people in the U.S. This is a 3 percent increase since 2008 and a 19 percent increase since 2006.
  • The chlamydia screening rate in young women almost doubled from 2000 to 2009 - going from 25 percent to 47 percent. However, there is still a long way to go before all young women are regularly and appropriately screened.
  • The CDC estimates that well over 1 million chlamydia cases a year are not diagnosed, which puts a large number of young women at risk of pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.
  • As with gonorrhea, chlamydia disproportionately affects young people of color. Young black women are particularly burdened by the disease, which affects approximately one out of every ten 15-24 year olds. The rate in black women age 15 to 19 is three times higher than in Hispanic women of the same age group and almost ten times higher than in white women of the same age group. The chlamydia rate in Alaskan Natives/Pacific Islanders is slightly higher than the rate in Hispanics.

2009 Syphilis Statistics

There has been a growing awareness of the role of oral sex in the spread of syphilis among men who have sex with men. Some good news, however, did come out of this year's surveillance. Although the overall number of syphilis cases continues to rise in certain age groups, including adolescents, the number of cases in women has ceased increasing for the first time in five years.

  • There are 4.6 cases of syphilis reported for every 100,000 people.
  • Although the absolute number of syphilis cases is much lower than that for gonorrhea and chlamydia, the number of cases has been rising each year since 2000.
  • The population that has seen the largest increase in syphilis cases has been men who have sex with men. In 2009, they reported 62 percent of syphilis cases, compared to only 4 percent in 2000. This may be, in part, a reflection of changing messages about the HIV epidemic that de-emphasized the risks of oral sex.
  • As with other reportable STDs, syphilis is more common in blacks than in other racial and ethnic groups. The number of cases is also increasing faster among young black men then it is in young men of other ethnicities.

Other 2009 STD Statistics

  • Surveillance in six U.S. states found that approximately 23 percent of the population is infected with high risk types of HPV. Prevalence was highest in teenagers: 35 percent.
  • Prevalence of genital warts may be on the rise, particularly in men.
  • The number of chancroid cases in the U.S. remains low, but that may be in part due to how difficult it is to test for.
  • The number of genital herpes cases seems to be steady, or slightly on the decline, but it is difficult to determine how accurate this STD statistic is since most infected people are unaware of their status.

In summary, although we could be doing a much better job of STD prevention, the STD statistics also show that we could be doing a lot worse. In the next few years, hopefully the government, the media, and scientists will continue to improve sex education for both children and adults and also continue to focus on improving access to testing and treatment for the minority populations who are disproportionately affected by the hidden epidemic.

Note: Certain sexually transmitted diseases are reportable to the government - which allows the CDC to track STD statistics and local health departments to engage in contact tracing and testing. When you are diagnosed with gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphillis, or HIV, your doctor or clinic will report the positive test to the government so that it can be included in the yearly STD statistics. These reports are often, but not always, stripped of your personal information so as to maintain your privacy. Some individuals prefer anonymous HIV testing for this reason; however, anonymity is usually considered less of a concern for the curable STDs. For reference, the CDC does not report separate STD statistics by gender for transgendered individuals.

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2009. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2010. Available at www.cdc.gov/std/stats/

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