Approximately 2.5 million chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis cases have been registered in the United States in 2021, according to preliminary data, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this month. The COVID-19 pandemic’s second year did not bring a slowdown in the growth rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), the CDC statistics showed.
CDC statistics showed that the overall number of 2.5 million infections in 2021 exceeded the record number of STDs reported in the United States in 2020, when it was 2.4 million. The increases were part of a larger spike in STDs during the pandemic, reported in April.
Nearly 700,000 gonorrhea cases were reported in 2021, up 2.8%. Chlamydia, which saw a decrease in 2020, perhaps due to fewer screenings, rose 3% in 2021, according to the CDC.
Some of the most disheartening increases came with rates of babies contracting syphilis in the womb, or congenital syphilis, which rose by 24%. In 2021, more than 2,600 newborns were born with syphilis, a major increase from the 529 in 2000, when the CDC expressed hope of eradicating the disease.
The overall syphilis rate rose by 27.7% in 2021, according to the CDC. As POLITICO notes, this is the highest yearly increase since the Truman administration of the 1950s.
“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.”
A CDC spokesperson told Newsweek that the preliminary data shows “some racial and ethnic minority groups, gay and bisexual men, and our nation’s youth continue to be disproportionately impacted by higher rates of STIs (sexually transmitted infections)—illustrating a failure to provide access to quality sexual healthcare to everyone who needs it.”