The National Coalition of STD Directors has issued a warning regarding the “out-of-control” epidemic of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the United States. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 2.5 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis were reported in the US in a single year. The most prevalent STI in the country in 2022 was chlamydia, followed by gonorrhea and syphilis. Of particular concern is the significant rise in syphilis cases, with an 80 percent increase over the past five years.

Syphilis poses a significant threat not only to adults but also to infants. When a baby contracts syphilis from an infected mother during pregnancy or birth, it is known as congenital syphilis. Shockingly, there has been a 937 percent increase in the number of congenital syphilis cases over the past decade. Syphilis is curable with the proper antibiotics, but if left untreated, it can cause irreversible harm to the body. In babies, it can lead to developmental delays, seizures, or even death.

In adults, syphilis is typically transmitted through sexual contact (vaginal, anal, or oral). The infection progresses through stages, starting with the primary stage, characterized by sores around the mouth or genitals. The secondary stage may involve rashes on the body, along with flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, sore throat, and fatigue. The early stages of syphilis are when the infection is most contagious. If left untreated, syphilis can progress to a third stage, impacting the organs and potentially leading to death.

Alarming Statistics

The increase in early-stage syphilis diagnoses is particularly alarming, with roughly a 10 percent rise each year. The number of congenital syphilis cases also saw a 31 percent increase in just one year. Black or African American children are disproportionately affected, with states like Texas, California, Arizona, Florida, and Louisiana accounting for a large percentage of cases. Tragically, these infections have resulted in 282 stillbirths and infant deaths. Timely testing and treatment during pregnancy could have prevented 88 percent of these cases, highlighting the importance of early intervention.

Health officials are calling for swift innovation and collaboration to address the escalating STI crisis. Various health associations and organizations are joining forces to advocate for increased funding for STI screening, treatment, and prevention services. Despite President Biden’s multi-agency plan to tackle rising STI cases, uncertainty remains regarding federal funding for these initiatives. The NCSDDC has expressed concern over the lack of increased STI funding in the White House’s 2025 budget blueprint, emphasizing the urgent need for resources to combat the growing epidemic of STIs in the US.


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