CDC: Pandemic didn’t slow the spread of STDs

According to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cases of several types of sexually transmitted diseases increased in 2020 as the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the number of recorded cases.

In total, 2.4 million STD cases were recorded in the United States in 2020, less than the 2.5 million infections reported in 2019, but the drop may be due to reduced testing, CDC said.

“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,” according to the CDC.

Chlamydia has historically accounted for the greatest proportion of STDs reported in the United States. According to the CDC, the fall in reported chlamydia cases is likely attributable to decreased STD screening and underdiagnosis during the pandemic, rather than a decrease in new infections.

“The COVID-19 pandemic put enormous pressure on an already strained public health infrastructure,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., Director of CDC’s National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “There were moments in 2020 when it felt like the world was standing still, but STDs weren’t. The unrelenting momentum of the STD epidemic continued even as STD prevention services were disrupted.”

See the CDC report on STD trends during the first year of the pandemic here.

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