Approximately 2.3 million new cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia were diagnosed during 2017 according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As part of Sexually Transmitted Diseases Awareness Month, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is raising awareness about prevention strategies and the benefits of screening, early diagnosis and treatment.
According to preliminary national reports, STD cases in 2018 increased substantially across the United States compared to 2017; with Michigan experiencing increases that mirrored this trend.
Gonorrhea increased 11 percent, marking a four-year upward trend. Primary and secondary syphilis cases increased significantly for each of the past two years with reported cases increasing 28 percent between 2016 and 2017 and an additional 36 percent between 2017 and 2018. Chlamydia cases rose slightly, less than 3 percent, from the 51,000 cases reported in 2017. Increases occurred among men who have sex with men, who make up two-thirds of syphilis cases, and heterosexual men and women, who make up 95 percent of gonorrhea and chlamydia cases.
Each of these infections are 100 percent curable and there are effective ways to prevent, diagnose and treat STDs. For everyone who is sexually active, screening and prompt treatment are critical to protect health and prevent transmission to others. MDHHS works closely with local health departments, healthcare providers, pharmacists and community-based organizations to raise awareness about STDs and promote routine testing.
“STDs are completely preventable, and early screening and treatment can protect from long-term consequences,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health. “We can all make a positive impact in preventing STDs through education and open conversations.”
In Michigan, clinicians have the option to use Expedited Partner Therapy in select cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia. EPT helps individuals avoid reinfection by allowing the provider the option to prescribe antibiotics for partners of infected patients without examining them. Prompt treatment of patients and partners can reduce negative health outcomes, especially among women, such as infertility and perinatal STD transmission.
Understanding risk, getting tested and talking about testing with partners, consistently and correctly using condoms, reducing the number of partners and abstaining from sex are all effective prevention strategies. Safe, effective vaccines are also available to prevent hepatitis B and some types of the human papillomavirus that cause genital warts and can cause cancer.
More information and resources about STD Awareness Month are available on the CDC website.