Why Are STDs on the Rise?

April is STD awareness month. You might assume STD awareness isnít needed with current advances in STD detection and treatment. But this simply isnít true. Many parts of the world are experiencing an unexpected surge in sexually transmitted disease infections.

The CDCís 2017 STD Surveillance Report looked at STD infection rates in the United States from 2013 to 2017. It revealed some disturbing facts, including:

  • Half of all new STDs are in people under age 25, with women being more affected.
  • The number of men aged 45-54 who became infected with syphilis nearly doubled between 2013 and 2017.
  • More than 600 cases of syphilis among newborns were reported in 2016, which was an increase of 28 percent from 2015. This has resulted in more than 40 deaths and severe health complications among these newborns.

Health Testing Centers took a closer look at the CDC report and compiled the following breakdown of how some of the most prevalent diseases are affecting different age and gender groups.

Demographic Distributions of STDs in America

Many other countries have seen similar surges in STD rates in recent years. Why is this happening? The reasons are no doubt complex, but evidence suggests a few social trends may be contributing to the rise in STD infection rates.

1. Condom Use is Inconsistent or Decreasing

A 2017 National Health Statistics Report found that condom use in the U.S. has not increased in recent years, and condom use has in fact declined among sexually active youth. Even when condoms are used, they are often used incorrectly or inconsistently, which reduces their effectiveness for preventing STD infections.

The survey included men and women aged 15-44. Of those surveyed, 24 percent of women and 34 percent of men reported using a condom in the previous 12 months. But those percentages drop to 18 percent of women and 24 percent of men who use condoms 100 percent of the time. And 26 percent of women who used a condom in the past 4 weeks said the condom was only used part of the time during intercourse.

Considering that both male and female condoms are the most effective way of preventing the majority of sexually transmitted diseases, these statistics are not encouraging. They may also be linked to the rise in STDs.

2. Lack of Public Education

STDs arenít minor inconveniences. Most sexually transmitted diseases can lead to serious health problems, including death. But this message doesnít seem to be getting communicated as effectively as it should be.

Research by the World Health Organization (WHO) has shown that marketing campaigns can double the likelihood of condom use. This proves that public education can be very effective to help empower people to make positive choices about their health.

Unfortunately, many governments throughout the world donít have adequate public education programs in place to provide support and current information about sexual health. The CDC recommends that local and national health departments provide these services to help bring down rising STD rates.

They also recommend that public education needs to be supported by regular STD testing as part of standard health care. This is especially vital for those in high-risk groups, such as people under 25, drug users, gay and bisexual men, and sex workers.

3. Rising Drug Abuse and Prostitution

Drug abuse is increasing throughout the world, and this may be affecting global STD infection rates. Those who use drugs and alcohol are more likely to engage in high-risk sexual activities, which puts them at greater risk of contracting an STD.

The increase in global drug abuse also may be increasing prostitution. As prostitution is illegal in most countries, itís difficult to estimate exact numbers of sex workers in any particular area. But many are reporting an increase in the sex trade in their local communities. And evidence suggests thereís also an increasing demand for prostitution.

Itís estimated that up to 85 percent of all prostitutes are drug users, and drug addiction is often a factor that pushes someone to work in the sex trade. These two issues may be fueling each other. The rates of STD infections are up to 60 percent higher in sex trade workers, so as more people enter the sex trade, that means more people are at higher risk for STD infection.

Combating drug addiction may be an important factor in reducing new STD infections.

4. Changing Attitudes Towards Sex

Weíre regularly bombarded by sexual messages and images in the media through advertising and entertainment. This isnít fundamentally wrong, but it can be argued that this trivializes sex. And viewing sex as trivial or inconsequential may make us less likely to take necessary precautions.

The digital age also makes sex much more available. This includes legitimate online dating and hook-up services, but also sexual exploitation. Sexual services can now be easily found online, and experts suggest this commercialization of sex normalizes prostitution and makes abusive and risky sexual behavior seem acceptable.

Also, research shows that our attitudes towards sex are changing. Over the past few decades, Americans have become more accepting of premarital, adolescent and same-sex sexual activity. Casual sex has also increased, as well as the number of sexual partners people have. Overall, this is likely a good thing as we move towards a more inclusive society that respects everyoneís sexual choices. But, it can also lead to a more casual attitude about the potential dangers involved with sex.

STDs are on the rise, and itís up to all of us to take responsibility for our own sexual health, share information about STDs and stop the spread of these dangerous diseases.

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83 comments

Chad Anderson
Chad Andersonyesterday

This should not be happening. Frank and real sex ed is necessary.

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Leo Custer
Leo Custer1 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Leo C
Leo Custer2 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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danii p
danii p3 days ago

thanks for sharing

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danii p
danii p3 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Joemar K
Joemar Karvelis5 days ago

Thanks

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Toni W
Toni W9 days ago

TYFS

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Toni W
Toni W9 days ago

TYFS

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Leo C
Leo Custer10 days ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Beth L
Past Member 14 days ago

Thank you

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