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More Americans Have STDs Than Ever Before

And the infection rate keeps rising

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Photo Illustration: Diana Quach
Oct 20, 2016 at 3:24 PM ET

Nearly 2 million Americans were diagnosed with chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis in 2015, according to a report published Wednesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s an unprecedented number, and the infection rate continues to climb.

Chlamydia was by far the most common, accounting for 1.5 million cases, making it the single-most reported condition of any disease ever reported to the CDC. Two thirds of the chlamydia cases and half those of gonorrhea were in 15- to 24-year-olds; 82 percent of the new cases of syphilis were in men who have sex with men. There was also an increase of syphilis cases transmitted from mother to child.

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The good news is that all three of these infections can be treated with antibiotics. The bad news is that some of diseases—namely, gonorrhea—are becoming resistant to the antibiotics that have effectively treated them in the past.

The reasons for the increase are complex. Public health services, kneecapped by budget cuts from the recession, have limited transmission-reducing patient services like frequent testing and education campaigns. “STD rates are rising, and many of the country’s systems for preventing STDs have eroded. We must mobilize, rebuild and expand services – or the human and economic burden will continue to grow,” said Jonathan Mermin, the director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, in a press release.

Mermin also pointed out that dating apps like Tinder might be contributing to the uptick, though the cause-and-effect relationship isn’t totally clear, the New York Times reported.

The CDC emphasizes the importance of getting tested at least once a year, or more often if you have other risk factors like multiple partners.