Illinois action blog

Thursday, November 15, 2007

STD rates on the rise

So, look, nobody really enjoys talking about sexually transmitted infections(STIs) - but rates in the U.S. are on the rise, and it's time we start talking about why. Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance for 2006. The report shows that the number of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis cases nationwide has increased steadily over the past several years.

While much of the increase can be attributed to an increase in screening and reporting the numbers are still troublesome.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the two most common STIs in the U.S., and the 1,030,911 cases of chlamydia in 2006 are the highest ever recorded for any nationally reported disease in any year. Racial and ethnic minorities continue to be disproportionately affected by all of these STIs.

Illinois ranked 10th in cases of chlamydia, 11th in cases of gonorrhea, and 14th in cases of syphilis. This is not a list where we want to be near the top.

So what (besides increased screening) is going on here? Could it be, maybe, possibly, related to the failure of abstinence-only sex education to give young people the information and tools they need to protect themselves?

Studies have found that when they do become sexually active, teens who received abstinence-only education often fail to use condoms or other contraceptives. Eighty-eight percent of students who pledged virginity in middle school and high school still engage in premarital sex. The students who break this pledge are less likely to use contraception at first intercourse. You can read more here.

The rising rates of STDs also speak to the critical importance of helping more people get tested - which is another reason we're so glad our Aurora health center is now open and offering testing!

Technorati tags: Sexually transmitted infections, STI testing, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Sex education,

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