The number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) — now more commonly referred to as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) — in the United States hit an all-time high in 2019, according to data released on April 13, 2021, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC’s surveillance report shows that nearly 2.5 million new cases of gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia were reported that year.
Chlamydia remained the most common condition reported to the CDC, with close to 1.8 million cases, up 19 percent since 2015. Gonorrhea diagnoses reached 616,392, up 56 percent since 2015. And primary and secondary syphilis diagnoses reached 129,813, up 74 percent since 2015.
The numbers of STDs increased in all age groups and among all racial and ethnic groups in 2019, according to CDC statistics. However, some groups saw higher rates of STDs than others:
People ages 15 to 24 accounted for 61 percent of chlamydia cases and 42 percent of gonorrhea cases.
Gay and bisexual men accounted for nearly half of all primary and secondary syphilis cases.
STD rates for Black Americans were 5 to 8 times that of non-Hispanic white people.
STD rates for American Indian or Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific Islander people, were 3 to 5 times that of non-Hispanic white people.
STD rates for Latino people were 1 to 2 times that of non-Hispanic white people.
According to the CDC’s surveillance report, “It is important to note that these disparities are unlikely explained by differences in sexual behavior and rather reflect differential access to quality sexual healthcare, as well as differences in sexual network characteristics. For example, in communities with higher prevalence of STDs, with each sexual encounter, people face a greater chance of encountering an infected partner than those in lower prevalence settings do, regardless of similar sexual behavior patterns.”