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Just How Common Are STDs?

February 1998

Many times we talk about statistics for HIV/AIDS. Very rarely, however, do we talk about statistics for the other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Let me review with you how common STDs are. As you will see, STDs are quite common, and there are many STDs that are more common than HIV/AIDS. Unless stated otherwise, these statistics are for the United States, and were supplied by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In the United States, there are an estimated 12 million cases of STDs every year, and about 25% of these cases are in adolescents.

For the latest HIV/AIDS statistics, please go to the following websites:

For statistics outside the United States:
http://www.who.ch/wer/wer_home.htm

For statistics in the United States:
http://www.cdc.gov/nchstp/hiv_aids/stats/hasrlink.htm

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The following compares the number of reported cases of STDs, versus the estimated number of actual cases. As you will see, the estimated number of actual cases is greater than the number of reported cases. This is because many cases do not get reported. The statistics for 1996 show the number of cases reported in that year, not the number of cases diagnosed in that year. There are often delays from the time a case is diagnosed, to the date it is reported to the CDC. Some STDs are not reportable in all areas (meaning they are under-reported), and some STDs are not reportable at all. The estimated number of new cases per year is based on 1998 estimates given to me by the CDC. For viral STDs (for example HIV, hepatitis A, B and C, herpes, human papilloma virus (hpv), etc.), persons diagnosed in previous years are still infected today. Therefore, the total number of cases is greater than the estimate shown.

Disease Reported cases (1996) Estimated new cases/year
AIDS 66,885 80,000
HIV (not AIDS)*, ** Not reportable in all states Not available
Chlamydia 498,884 4 million
Gonorrhea 325,883 800,000
Syphilis (all stages) 52,976 101,000
Chancroid 386 3,500
Hepatitis A** 31,032 180,000
Hepatitis B** 10,637 128,000
Hepatitis C, non-A/B** 3,716 28,000
Human papilloma virus (HPV)*** Not reportable 500,000 to 1 million
Herpes simplex virus (HSV) 1 & 2**** Not reportable 200,000 to 500,000
Trichomonas Not reportable 3 million
HTLV-I/II** Not reportable Not available
Molluscum contagiosum Not reportable Not available
Lice/Scabies** Not reportable Not available

* = The estimated total number of cases of HIV is 650,000 to 900,000.
** = Can be transmitted through non-sexual ways as well.
*** = HPV causes genital/anal warts.
**** = The estimated total number of cases of HSV-2 alone is 45 million.

As you will notice, STDs are quite common. Conflicting statistics for these STDs (from other sources) are usually due to one or more of the following reasons:

  1. Some statistics are for cases diagnosed in a given year, while other statistics are for cases reported in a given year. There are often delays from the time a case is diagnosed, to the date it is reported to the CDC.

  2. Some statistics are for reported cases, while other statistics are for an estimated number of actual cases (see above).

  3. Some statistics are for new cases in a single year (incidence), while other statistics also include cases diagnosed in previous years (prevalence). This is especially true with the viral STDs (see above).


Do you want more information on AIDS, STDs or safer sex? Contact the U.S. Centers for Disease Control AIDS hotline, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 1-800-CDC-INFO. Or visit The Body's Safe Sex and Prevention Forum.

Until next time . . . Work hard, play hard, play safe, stay sober!




  
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This article was provided by Rick Sowadsky, M.S.P.H..
 

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