NEW YORK — The number of combined cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia in the United States rose to a record high last year with gay and bi men being disproportionately affected, the New York Times reports citing figures released this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for 54 percent of all syphilis cases in 2018, for example, the annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report notes.
More than 2.4 million syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia infections were reported in the United States in 2018, an increase of more than 100,000 cases from the previous year, the report notes.
It attributed the increase to several factors, including a decline in condom use among young people and men who have sex with men; increased screening among some groups; and cuts to sexual health programs at the state and local level, the Times reports.
There were more than 115,000 syphilis cases reported to the center in 2018, a 71 percent increase since 2014. That included a 22 percent increase from 2017 in the number of newborn deaths related to congenital syphilis, which is passed from mother to child during pregnancy, the report notes.
The number of gonorrhea cases last year rose 5 percent to more than 580,000, the highest number reported to the center since 1991. The number of chlamydia cases also rose by 3 percent in 2018 over the previous year to more than 1.7 million cases, the most ever reported to CDC, it said. The center said it had seen a surge in both infections since 2014, with gonorrhea increasing 63 percent and chlamydia increasing 19 percent since then, the Times reports.
The number of men with a diagnosis of gonorrhea has roughly doubled over the past five years, with data suggesting that gay and bisexual men were disproportionately affected by that infection as well, the center said, according to the Times.
The CDC said its figures might not capture the true scope of the STD epidemic in the United States because many cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis go undiagnosed and so are not reported to health authorities, the Times reports.