Why Are We Seeing A Rise In STDs?

A photograph of 2 unopened condom packages on a yellow backdrop

The Situation is “Out Of Control”

The impact of COVID 19 along with sexual pressure from self, society, peers, mixed in with hookup culture and lack of education or awareness has given way to a significant rise in STDs. 

There were 2.5 million reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in 2021 with increasing rates and no signs of slowing. 

David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, called the situation “out of control.” The recently released preliminary data from the CDC only puts more pressure on our health departments who are still dealing with Covid and the monkeypox outbreak. Leandro Mena, the director of the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention stated that chronic underfunding of public health programs is largely to blame.

Not Enough People To Help Contract Trace

When the pandemic hit in 2019 there were significant changes made in contact tracing. Staffing contract tracers for COVID was difficult and there simply were not enough people. Of 59 US-funded STD programs, 91% reported a great deal to moderate impact from staff reassignment in April 2020, with 28% of respondents reporting permanent reassignment of disease intervention specialist staff. One of our own HealthGenYZ advisors, Paige Phillips, MPH took on a position as a contact tracer on the east coast to help. With most of the current contact tracers being reassigned from STD work to COVID-19 duties, many of which are permanently reassigned or just left the field entirely and sexual health clinics that either closed or cut back hours and services, we are doing a disservice to our communities. 

Navigating Pressures

Status, acceptance, love, desire and relationship norms all contribute to the sexual pressure an individual must deal with. Throw in a search for self identity, hookup culture, social media and hormones and you start to see what it is like to navigate the pressures that influence our decisions and behaviors that put us at risk.

A Lack of Sex Education

Sex education is lacking or just non-existent in many cases. Whatever reasons people have for not wanting to educate our young adults about sex we are clearly feeling the impact along with our elderly who are more sexually active than most realize. As adults lack of education and preventative measures regarding sexual health infection and disease is dangerous to ourselves and our communities overall. We understand that Thanksgiving dinner conversations probably are not going to be centered around The 3 most common std’s in adults or how you can get a quick private test from a lab is not likely to be a dinner table discussion but it should be brought up sometime among friends, community and peers. We need to normalize the conversations around std prevention and treatment because it is happening whether we talk about it or not. 

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