Bad news for everyone. According to a recent medical study shared by CNN, STDs are at a record high in America, with the majority of affected people being young women. The report came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday which noted that there were more than 2 million American cases of three common sexually transmitted diseases — chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea — in 2016. The center described the revelation as a "disturbing trend" that cannot be fixed without rigorous intervention at societal and educational levels. In other words, it's upon everyday Americans to sort this mess out.
The center's Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report stated that there were over 1.6 million cases of chlamydia, 470,000 cases of gonorrhea, and around 28,000 cases of two stages of syphilis. While all three diseases can be treated with the help of administered antibiotics, their highly contagious nature made their proliferation — basic spreading through contamination — incredibly easy and common among men and women.
David Harvey, director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, explained the implications of such a high number of adults with STDs who often go unchecked and untreated. "If not treated," Harvey explained, "gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis can have serious consequences, such as infertility, neurological issues, and an increased risk for HIV."
According to the report, young people between 15 and 24 made up half the new cases of STDs. One possible reason for such an appalling national record of sexual health and a vulnerable generation points in the direction of everyday schools. Sexual health education (or sex-ed) in the United States is remarkably uneven and frequently inadequate.
Each state's individual educational institutions, from private to public, administer lessons on sex-ed according to their own compass and framework. In other words, sex-ed in one classroom on the East Coast may radically differ from that somewhere in the Midwest. A teacher on the West Coast delivering notes on STD prevention to her or his students may enlighten pupils differently than a teacher in the South of the country.
The Guttmacher Institute reported that "22 states and the District of Columbia mandate both sex and HIV education; two states mandate sex education alone, and another 12 states mandate only HIV education." Beyond that, the intricacies of sexual health, attraction, orientation, psychological health, and even rudimentary concepts like permission and consent are patchy. To give you an idea of how there is a dearth of proper sex-ed in the country, consider the fact that California is the only state in the country to teach about sexual consent.
Gail Bolan, who's in charge of the center's Division of STD Prevention, insists that America's current problem of a stunning number of STDs isn't incurable — yet. While speaking of mother carriers of syphilis who end up passing congenital syphilis to their infants, Bolan said, "This is a completely preventable problem. Every baby born with syphilis represents a tragic public health system failure. All it takes is a simple STD test and antibiotic treatment to prevent this tragedy from occurring."
Bolan has a point. America's STD epidemic can be fixed and decreased with individual vigilance about one's status as well as more wholesome initiatives taken by health departments in all states. The report called for improved "clinical service infrastructure" to detect and treat STDs while STD screenings needed to be made more accessible to women, especially mothers and young people. Plus, "everyone should talk openly about STDs, get tested regularly, and reduce risk by using condoms or practicing mutual monogamy if sexually active."
It's fairly intuitive. If you feel as if there's something fishy going on, get an appointment for a STD screening with your doctor right away. Never shy away from practicing sex safe with your partner, whether it is a casual or serious relationship. Remember that your safety always takes priority over pleasure.