STDs Are Increasing. Stay Calm.

Syphilis rates are higher than they been in years, while other STD rates are also rising

red condoms in purple packaging on a yellow background
Post-COVID unprotected sex might have some consequences
Javier Zayas Photography via Getty

STDs are on the rise in the US, with syphilis infection rates alone rising 26% last year, hitting the highest number of cases since 1991. The executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, David Harvey, said that the current situation is “out of control.

It’s not just syphilis; HIV and gonorrhea cases have increased, with HIV rates rising 16% last year. STD rates are particularly high between men who have sex with men, but the rate of STDs in women are also increasing. Monkeypox, which began spreading in the US this year, has also raised awareness for diseases that are primarily spread during sex, while some medical experts say that the focus on Monkeypox has dominated conversations and resources for STDs in state and local health departments, leading to even more underfunding, and confusion from the public.

Higher STD rates could also be linked to a post-COVID unprotected sex boom, as STDs are (spoiler alert!) spread primarily through unprotected sex. Experts are pushing for at-home tests for STDs, tackling the social stigma of STDs, as well as pushing for increased condom use. 

Dr. Leandro Mena, from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a conference this week that he envisions “one day where getting tested [for STDs] can be as simple and as affordable as doing a home pregnancy test.” 

Until that becomes reality, get tested, and protect yourself. (And your partner. Duh.)

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