U.S. Gonorrhea Rate Drops to Record Low; Increases Seen in Number of Chlamydia, Syphilis Cases, CDC Report Says
November 30, 2004
Gonorrhea prevalence in the United States dropped nearly 5% between 2002 and 2003, falling to a record low of 116.2 cases of the sexually transmitted disease per 100,000 people, according to CDC's "2003 STD Surveillance Report," which was released Monday, the AP/Macon Telegraph reports. The national gonorrhea rate has dropped rapidly since 1975, when CDC began a nationwide program to control the spread of the disease. Between 1975 and 1997, gonorrhea prevalence in the country declined 74%, and the only increase since 1975 occurred in 1998. The decline can be attributed to an increased number of screening and treatment programs at clinics nationwide in the 1980s and 1990s, according to Dr. David Martin, director of the Louisiana STD Research Center and professor of infectious disease at Louisiana State University Medical School. However, current gonorrhea prevalence likely will not decrease any further unless more screening programs outside of the clinic setting -- such as in prisons, schools and drug treatment facilities -- are implemented, Martin said. Despite the overall decline in gonorrhea prevalence, a higher percentage of gonorrhea strains were resistant to traditional antibiotic treatments in 2003 than in the previous year; about 4.1% of samples of the disease collected in 2003 showed resistance to common antibiotics, compared with 2.2% in 2002. In addition, black people in the United States are more than 20 times as likely to have gonorrhea than white people, according to the study. Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, deputy director of CDC's National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, said that the racial disparity may be the result of unequal access to health care facilities (Yee, AP/Macon Telegraph, 11/29).
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