Category Archives: STDs

COVID 19 Impact: Cases of Gonorrhea, syphilis, and Congenital Syphilis Surpass 2019 Levels

From medical.net

Reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the United States decreased during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but most resurged by the end of that year. Ultimately, reported cases of gonorrhea, syphilis, and congenital syphilis surpassed 2019 levels, while chlamydia declined, according to new data published today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The data provide the clearest picture yet of COVID-19’s impact on the U.S. STD epidemic.

The newly released 2020 STD Surveillance Report found that at the end of 2020:

  • Reported cases of gonorrhea and primary & secondary (P&S) syphilis were up 10% and 7%, respectively, compared to 2019.
  • Syphilis among newborns (i.e., congenital syphilis) also increased, with reported cases up nearly 15% from 2019, and 235% from 2016. Early data indicate primary and secondary syphilis and congenital syphilis cases continued to increase in 2021 as well.
  • Reported cases of chlamydia declined 13% from 2019.

Chlamydia historically accounts for the largest proportion of reported STDs in the United States. The decline in reported chlamydia cases is likely due to decreased STD screening and underdiagnosis during the pandemic, rather than a reduction in new infections. This also contributed to an overall decrease in the number of reported STDs in 2020 (from 2.5 million reported cases in 2019 to 2.4 million in 2020).

Read the full article.

S.T.I.s Are on the Rise, Still

From the New York Times

Rates of many sexually transmitted infections continued to climb during the first year of the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement posted to its website on Tuesday. While overall there were 2.4 million infections recorded in 2020, down from a record high of 2.6 million in 2019, diagnosed cases of certain sexually transmitted diseases surged.

Cases of congenital syphilis, which occurs in newborns who contract the disease from their mothers, reached the highest numbers in 26 years, rising by 235 percent since 2016. Rates of primary and secondary syphilis rose by 7 percent from 2019 to 2020; gonorrhea cases rose by 10 percent in the same time period.

Read the full article on the New York Times Website.

Highest rates of syphilis infection in 30 years says PA Health Department

The Pennsylvania Department of Health recently reported that during 2021, the state (outside of Philadelphia) experienced a 28% increase in early syphilis—going from 1,105 cases reported in 2020 to 1,418 cases reported in 2021. The latest numbers are the highest infection rates of early syphilis cases in more than 30 years.

Of the early syphilis cases reported in women, 90% were of child-bearing age—which presents a unique danger of congenital syphilis, where the infection can be passed on from mother to child during pregnancy.

As a result, health officials are strongly encouraging all sexually active men and women to get tested.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can be spread through vaginal, oral or anal sex. Syphilis can also be spread during pregnancy to the unborn child, and by sharing intravenous needles. Syphilis is easily cured if caught in the early stages of infection but, because symptoms can be mild, it’s possible to have it and not know. Testing is the only way to verify infection.

Ask  your doctor about getting tested for syphilis. If you don’t have a doctor or prefer a nearby confidential clinic, enter your zip code at https://gettested.cdc.gov/ (to refine your search, select “syphilis testing” under “filter results”). Most testing clinics are free.

To find out more about syphilis, you can go to the CDC information page at https://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/default.htm.

 

 

 

Erie County Department of Health: Historic increase in new Syphilis infections

Erie County Department of Health is reporting a record-breaking increase in new Syphilis infections in the county — 41 cases in 2021. That’s an increase of 310% from the previous year. Most new infections were among people under the age of 30. Men accounted for 78% of the new infections and 22% were women. As a result, health officials are strongly encouraging all sexually active county residents to get tested.

Erie County Health Department building
Erie County Health Department (https://eriecountypa.gov/departments/health/)

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can be spread through vaginal, oral or anal sex. Syphilis can also be spread during pregnancy to the unborn child, and by sharing intravenous needles. Syphilis is easily cured if caught in the early stages of infection but, because symptoms can be mild, it’s possible to have it and not know. Testing is the only way to verify infection.

To find out where you can get free testing, enter your zip code at https://gettested.cdc.gov/ (under Filter Results, select “syphilis testing”). To find out more about syphilis, you can go to the CDC information page at https://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/default.htm.

NIH Funding Opportunity for Delivering PrEP and STI Services to Stop HIV

From HIV.gov

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a Request for Applications (RFA) for research on effective strategies for expanding the provision of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for people at increased risk of HIV by leveraging existing sexually transmitted infection (STI) programs.

N I H logoResearch supported by this initiative should be based on point of care HIV testing for all persons seeking STI services, followed by linkage to available antiretroviral therapy (ART) or PrEP, in addition to STI testing, treatment, and prevention services at designated STI clinical settings. HIV testing, PrEP, and ART should be linked with STI services in settings where they are needed and not currently co-located. Interventions should be included to (i) overcome stigma and discrimination, (ii) provide individualized services to optimize PrEP and ART uptake and retention, (iii) ensure ongoing access to ART, PrEP, and other prevention services, (iv) and provide quality STI services that meet current CDC recommendations (Recommendations for Providing Quality STD Clinical Services).

Find out more.

STD Clinics Contribute to Ending the HIV Epidemic in the United States

From HIV.gov

STD clinics play a key role in HIV diagnosis, prevention, care, and treatment.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes this role and in August 2020 awarded $3 million to seven jurisdictions to scale up HIV services in eight STD clinics through funding announcement PS20-2010: Integrated HIV Programs for Health Departments to Support Ending the HIV Epidemic in the United States (EHE).

Having a sexually transmitted infection (STI) can increase theEnding the H I V epidemic chances of getting or transmitting HIV, because having an STI may make HIV transmission easier. Additionally, the same behaviors and circumstances that place people at risk for STIs also can place them at risk for HIV.

STD clinics are important healthcare settings for people who may not otherwise have access to healthcare services, including those who are uninsured or seek confidential services. They serve people who are not engaged in HIV prevention programs or the primary healthcare system for STD and HIV prevention and care.3 For example, in 2018, an analysis of CDC-funded HIV tests found STD clinics provided more than one-third of all HIV tests conducted among healthcare settings and identified approximately 20% of all people newly diagnosed with HIV in these settings.

Read the full article on HIV.gov.

NASTAD: COVID-19’s impact on PrEP/PEP and sexual health services

NASTAD, in collaboration with the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), released “One Year Later: COVID-19’s Impact on PrEP/PEP and Sexual Health Services.” This resource explores the impact COVID-19 has had on the provision of sexual health and HIV prevention services over the last year.

NASTAD logoThis reflection piece details the many challenges and opportunities COVID-19 has brought to the HIV/STD prevention field, particularly in the southern United States, and showcases the innovative approaches sexual health providers implemented to further prevent service disruption.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing, this document looks at what the sexual health workforce has been through, and continue to go through, navigating ending an HIV epidemic while in a global pandemic.

HIV & STI National Strategic Plans Call for Enhanced Coordination of Efforts

From HIV.gov

The recently released STI National Strategic Plan (STI Plan) and HIV National Strategic Plan were developed concurrently with the Viral Hepatitis National Strategic Plan and each calls for a more integrated approach to addressing the syndemic of HIV, STIs, viral hepatitis, and substance use and mental health disorders. Together, these three plans aim to enhance coordination of the activities of federal agencies and diverse community stakeholders to reduce morbidity and mortality, stigma, discrimination, health inequities, and disparities; improve outcomes; and fortify the public health and health care infrastructure to support prevention, diagnosis, care, and treatment across these infectious diseases. As federal agencies begin work to develop implementation plans for each of these five-year plans, we will explore opportunities to enhance integration of prevention, care, and treatment of STIs, HIV, viral hepatitis, and behavioral health issues by leveraging capacity and infrastructure across the domains and breaking down operational and funding silos.

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Such silos result in missed opportunities every day to test people for multiple infections and to scale up services in settings where people at risk receive other services. These missed opportunities translate directly into lost time and resources and may result in harm to people who remain undiagnosed, untreated, and at risk of severe outcomes or of transmitting HIV, an STI, or viral hepatitis to others. A reciprocal, integrated approach in our responses to infectious diseases and substance use and mental health disorders that puts patients first through a status-neutral and no-wrong-door approach will maximize their ability to access services that meet their health needs.

For example, HIV testing, prevention, and care programs can identify opportunities to screen for other STIs, viral hepatitis, and behavioral health issues and provide treatment and/or linkage to appropriate services. Current CDC PrEP guidelines recommend STI screening as part of PrEP care and the HHS HIV Treatment Guidelines provide information on screening, treatment, and prevention of herpes and syphilis.

Similarly, STD clinic patients represent a population at increased risk for HIV; so STD specialty clinics play a vital role in reaching people at risk for HIV who are not engaged in HIV prevention programs or other health care services, including those who are uninsured and those who seek confidential services. In addition, STD specialty clinics serve a high proportion of racial and ethnic minorities, gay and bisexual men, and transgender people so are ideally positioned to reach these populations disproportionately affected by HIV who could benefit from PrEP or PEP or reach people with HIV who are either unaware of their status or are not virally suppressed and could benefit from linkage to or reengagement in care.

Despite Increasing Rates of STIs, Federal Investment Has Been Flat

From nationalacademes.org

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) impose billions of dollars in medical costs in the U.S., but STI prevention and control is chronically underfunded, stigmatized, and siloed from efforts to promote overall health and well-being, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report calls for modernizing national STI surveillance and monitoring systems, bolstering the STI workforce, developing and scaling up structural and behavioral interventions, and accelerating the development of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics. Taking these strategic actions would also better position the U.S. to respond to COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, and future infectious disease outbreaks, the report says.

banana wearing a condom
Image courtesy of Charles Deluvio

The prevention and control of STIs requires a more holistic approach that promotes sexual health and expands access to comprehensive prevention and treatment services — rather than focusing on individual behaviors or blaming people who acquire STIs, says Sexually Transmitted Infections: Adopting a Sexual Health Paradigm.

Despite the economic burden and alarming increase of STI rates over the last 20 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s STI funding has remained flat. Although HIV is an ongoing and highly significant concern, the mandate of the committee that wrote the report was to focus its recommendations on STIs other than HIV, due to increasing rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. However, the report discusses the interplay between HIV and other STIs, and ways HIV and STI services can collaborate or integrate their prevention, care, and research efforts.

Read the full article.

Health Alert: Pennsylvania reports highest rate of syphilis in 20 years

From outbreaknewstoday.com

Pennsylvania state health officials are reporting increased amounts of sexually transmitted infections, in particular syphilis, prompting officials to encourage the public to take steps to decrease their risk.

decretive imagePregnant women should be screened at first and third trimester because of the sharp increase in the number of babies born with the disease in the United States. Nationally, cases of congenital syphilis increased by 185 percent between 2014 and 2018. In 2019, five congenital syphilis cases were reported in the state of Pennsylvania, following seven cases reported in 2018. These reported cases of congenital syphilis in the state represented the highest number of cases in more than 25 years.Early syphilis in Pennsylvania is currently at the highest rate in more than 20 years. Over the last five years, early syphilis reported in women of child-bearing age (women aged 15 to 44) increased 114 percent, from 78 cases in 2015 to 167 cases in 2019.

“Sexually transmitted diseases are serious diseases that impact many Pennsylvanians each year,” Acting Secretary Beam said. “It is essential that all residents are aware of the risks and dangers associated with STDs. Many of these diseases can be easily diagnosed and treated, which is why we encourage all residents to talk to their doctor about getting tested so we can further prevent diseases and keep our residents healthy.”

Read the full article.