LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today commended Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP Committee), for her October 10th letter to U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H., asking that he “… take immediate action to raise public awareness …” about the continually rising rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) both in her home state of Washington and across the nation.
In her letter, Murray urged that Dr. Adams, “…engage all relevant federal agencies in taking evidence-based steps to address the problems, with particular focus on prevention amongst populations most at risk of contracting STDs.” Murray also noted, “The continued rise in STD rates is in sharp contrast with declining rates observed just a few years ago and demonstrates a clear need for federal, state, and local public health agencies, providers, and policy officials to act immediately.”
In late August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its latest analysis of STDs in the United States. The CDC found steep and sustained increases in STD infections—nearly 2.3 million total cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis diagnosed in the U.S. in 2017, up 200,000 cases or more than 9% since 2016. Gonorrhea was up 67%, primary and secondary syphilis, up 76% and while chlamydia held relatively steady— just a few points above where it was in 2013—at more than 1.7 million cases in 2017, it remains the most prevalent STD and is a significant health concern because the disease can affect women’s reproductive organs and possibly leave them infertile. The majority of these new STD infections are also being found in young people ages 18-24.
“We thank Senator Murray for calling on Dr. Adams and the U.S. Surgeon General’s office to take swift action to raise awareness about the epidemic of STDs sweeping our nation as well as sharing information about evidence-based prevention, particularly targeting those most at risk for contracting STDS—those in the 18 to 24-year-old range,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AHF.
“Among many population groups in all parts of our country, sexually transmitted diseases are spreading at alarmingly high rates. Clear action on prevention and treatment from the Surgeon General and other key federal agencies is necessary to help educate the public about these infections as well as about effective prevention and treatment options,” said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Senior Director of AHF’s Public Health Division. “Regular STD screenings with a trusted medical provider must be a key component of maintaining one’s sexual health. It is more important now than ever for people to take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their partners from potentially harmful diseases.”
Syphilis: Back from the brink of oblivion
In July 2000, Malcolm Gladwell wrote a piece for The New Yorker that explored the U.S. government’s missed opportunity to eradicate syphilis, which at the time was at its lowest level in U.S. history. Gladwell observed that, “…syphilis is very close to that critical point faced by many epidemics, when even the slightest push could tip them into oblivion.” He also noted, “…the Centers for Disease Control asked Congress, if, for an extra fifteen million dollars in C.D.C funding, it would like to wipe out syphilis from the United States by 2005. And Congress said no.”
“Creating a hashtag or talking about this issue for 30 days is simply not enough to address the magnitude of the problem at hand with STDs,” added Engeran-Cordova. “We need our elected officials and health agencies to make confronting the STD epidemic a national priority, and we commend Senator Murray for pressing Dr. Adams and Surgeon General’s office to step up and take a lead in this critical effort.”
AHF advises sexually active individuals to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading STDs by engaging in safer sex practices such as regular condom use and participating in frequent STD screenings. Knowing your STD or HIV status is essential to your health and the health of your sexual partners.
AHF’s Wellness Centers provide free testing for sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV. To find the nearest location for STD screening and treatment, visit http://www.freestdcheck.org.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1,000,000 individuals in 42 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare