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Combined Cases of Syphilis, Gonorrhea, and Chlamydia Reached an All-Time High in the United States in 2018

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Combined cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia reached an all-time high in the United States in 2018, according to the annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can have severe health consequences. Among the most tragic are newborn deaths related to congenital syphilis, which increased 22 percent from 2017 to 2018 (from 77 to 94 deaths).

The new report shows that from 2017 to 2018, there were increases in the three most commonly reported STDs:

There were more than 115,000 syphilis cases.
The number of primary and secondary syphilis cases – the most infectious stages of syphilis – increased 14 percent to more than 35,000 cases, the highest number reported since 1991.
Among newborns, syphilis cases increased 40 percent to more than 1,300 cases.
Gonorrhea increased 5 percent to more than 580,000 cases – also the highest number reported since 1991.
Chlamydia increased 3 percent to more than 1.7 million cases – the most ever reported to CDC.
“STDs can come at a high cost for babies and other vulnerable populations,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “Curbing STDs will improve the overall health of the nation and prevent infertility, HIV, and infant deaths.”

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Antibiotics can cure syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. However, left untreated, STDs can be transmitted to others and produce adverse health outcomes such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and increased HIV risk. Congenital syphilis – syphilis passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy – can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, newborn death, and severe lifelong physical and neurological problems.