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U.S. News

Sex Infections Still Growing in U.S., Says CDC

November 17, 2009

Common STDs in the United States are at "unacceptably high levels," a CDC official said Monday in announcing the latest statistics on chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.

"We have among the highest rates of STDs of any developed country in the world," said Dr. John Douglas, director of CDC's Division of STD Prevention.

Among the report's highlights:

  • Chlamydia cases rose to 1.2 million in 2008, up from 1.1 million the previous year.
  • The number of syphilis cases in 2008, 13,500, is up 18 percent over 2007.
  • Men who have sex with men accounted for 63 percent of the syphilis cases in 2008. The rate among women increased 36 percent from 2007 to 2008.
  • About 71 percent of gonorrhea cases and almost half of chlamydia and syphilis cases in 2008 were reported among blacks, who represent 12 percent of the U.S. population.
  • Almost half the 19 million new STD cases reported each year are among 15- to 24-year-olds.

Douglas called for better sex education to address the problem. He said young people should learn about condom use, limit their number of sex partners, and avoid sex with people who have multiple partners. "We are not honestly and openly dealing with this issue and it's the larger issue of sexual health," he said.

Current administration policy has shifted to embrace a more comprehensive approach to sex education, leaving behind the abstinence-only approach favored by the Bush administration.

"We haven't been promoting the full battery of messages," Douglas said. "We have been sending people out with one seatbelt in the whole car."

Back to other news for November 2009

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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