CDC sending out an SOS over soaring rates of STDs

From the New York Daily News

Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) releases an annual report of a national overview of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

The report for 2015 was not encouraging at all. In fact, it was quite discouraging as such STDs as chlamydia and gonorrhea were at an all-time high, including higher rates of syphilis.

Sexually transmitted diseases are typically not discussed in polite conversation. But the less they are talked about, the more of a hidden epidemic they are becoming.

We need to realize that anyone who has sex — oral, anal or vaginal intercourse and genital touching — can get an STD. It doesn’t matter whether you are straight, married, single or gay, everyone is at risk.

Read the full article.

STDs at an all-time high in the U.S.

From CBSnews.com

Rates of sexually transmitted diseases in the United States continue to rise, and total combined cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis have reached the highest ever, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

std-at-all-time-high-in-usThe data, released today, shows that in 2015, there were more than 1.5 million cases of chlamydia reported, nearly 400,000 cases of gonorrhea, and nearly 24,000 cases of primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis – the most infectious stages of the disease.

“We have reached a decisive moment for the nation,” Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, said in a statement. “STD rates are rising, and many of the country’s systems for preventing STDs have eroded. We must mobilize, rebuild and expand services – or the human and economic burden will continue to grow.”

Researchers found that from 2014 to 2015, syphilis rates rose 19 percent, gonorrhea rates rose nearly 13 percent, and chlamydia increased by almost 6 percent.

These infections are normally curable with antibiotics – but there is growing concern about drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea that don’t respond to standard treatment.

In many cases, people with STDs continue to go undiagnosed and untreated, putting many at risk for severe health complications, including infertility, chronic pain and increased risk for HIV.

Young people and gay and bisexual men continue to be disproportionately affected by STDs. The data shows that Americans aged 15 to 24 accounted for nearly two-thirds of chlamydia diagnoses and half of gonorrhea diagnoses.

Gay and bisexual men accounted for the majority of new gonorrhea and syphilis cases.

The CDC also said it continues to see “troubling” increases in syphilis among newborns.

The syphilis rate among women increased by more than 27 percent from 2014 to 2015, while congenital syphilis – which occurs when the infection is transmitted from a pregnant woman to her baby – increased by 6 percent.

“The health outcomes of syphilis – miscarriage, stillbirth, blindness or stroke – can be devastating,” said Dr. Gail Bolan, director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention. “The resurgence of congenital syphilis and the increasing impact of syphilis among gay and bisexual men makes it clear that many Americans are not getting the preventive services they need. Every pregnant woman should be tested for syphilis, and sexually active gay and bisexual men should be tested for syphilis at least once a year.”

To reverse this dangerous trend and stop the spread of STDs, the CDC says health care providers, state and local health departments, and the public all need to play a role.

“We should all learn to talk more openly about STDs – with our partners, parents, and providers,” Bolan said. “People who are sexually active should talk to their medical providers about getting tested and reducing their risk by using condoms or practicing mutual monogamy. It is critical that providers ask about their patients’ sexual history and ensure STD screening is a standard part of medical care.”

Gonorrhea treatment showing signs of failing

From Project Q Atlanta

Federal health officials warned of new signs that gonorrhea is growing resistant to current treatments, a development more troubling for gay men who face a higher risk of the sexually transmitted disease than other populations.

Findings of a new study from Hawaii prompted the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to raise a warning flag on Wednesday during its 2016 STD Prevention Conference in downtown Atlanta. The findings showed that the current treatment for gonorrhea – a shot of ceftriaxone and an oral dose of azithromycin – was losing its effectiveness in a cluster of infections in Hawaii.

That’s more troubling than data released in July that showed emerging drug resistance and limited treatment options for gay men at a time when infections among them are on the rise, federal officials said during a press conference Wednesday.

“It seems that in the battle between humans and pathogens, gonorrhea is a formidable opponent,” said Jonathan Mermin (photo), director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD & Tuberculosis Prevention.

“We are seeing troubling signs that treatments are failing us. We may be running out of options for treating gonorrhea,” he added.

Gonorrhea is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the country and it impacts gay men more severely than other populations. The CDC has said about 56 percent of gonorrhea cases in the U.S. are among men and of those, 48 percent are estimated to be gay men. Put another way, men who have sex men face a gonorrhea incidence 17 times greater that seen in heterosexual men and nearly 14 times that seen in women, based on the 2014 STD Surveillance Report.

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Study shows equal rates of risky sex between gay and straight male teens — but queer youth still more susceptible to HIV

From the Advocate.com

As part of the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presented a report today analyzing the sexual risk behavior of American males in high school. These risk behaviors included having sex without condoms and having multiple sexual partners. The new study, which compiled data from ninth- through 12th-grade males identifying as gay, bisexual, or heterosexual, found “no significant differences” in the HIV-related risk behaviors between these groups.

Queer youth still getting HIVBut despite the very little difference between the HIV-related risk behaviors of gay youth and that of straight youth, the data show that the rate of HIV transmission is still much higher among men who have sex with men. MSM have an HIV diagnosis rate at 57 times that of heterosexual men. In 2014, for example, MSM represented a full 80 percent of new youth infections.

So why does HIV infection disproportionately affect gay and bisexual men if they don’t engage in risky sexual behavior more often than their heterosexual peers? A huge factor is the increased prevalence of HIV in the sexual networks of gay and bisexual men. And one must also keep in mind that, when it comes to HIV transmission, not all sex acts are created equal. According to Dr. Laura Kann, chief of the CDC’s School-Based Surveillance Branch, MSM are at higher risk because “the transmission risk for receptive anal sex is 17 times higher than [for] vaginal sex.”

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Gay, Bi men frightening health officials in US and UK with skyrocketing STD rates

From Advocate.com

STD rates alarming health officialsThere are new scary findings about sexually transmitted infections and diseases from the United Kingdom, where cases of syphilis and gonorrhea have jumped 73 percent and 53 percent, respectively, between 2012 and 2015. Officials cite “very high rates of STIs among gay men and young adults” as a factor in the rise, according to The Guardian.

The troubling report follows a similar one last year from the U.S.’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which showed 2014 syphilis and gonorrhea cases outnumbering those from 2013, the first rise since 2006. Again, MSM (men who have sex with men) were specifically referenced in the findings, which repeated a shocking, underreported fact — potentially fatal syphilis among MSM has been increasing since the year 2000.

Read the full article on Advocate.com.

A silent LGBT epidemic

From the Advocate

The LGBT community is no stranger to attacks on the safety, health and well-being of its members. From the recurring police harassment and violence that precipitated the Stonewall riots to the ravages of HIV and AIDS in the 1980s — coupled with an apathetic government and public — all the way through to the recent Orlando massacre, LGBT people repeatedly find themselves in the crosshairs of dangerous threats.

LGBT smoking epidemicWith such monumental obstacles to our health and well-being, it’s easy to overlook a much more subtle but even more deadly killer: smoking.

The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 30,000 LGBT Americans die from tobacco-related diseases annually. By comparison, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 14,000 Americans with an AIDS diagnosis — gay, straight, transgender, and cisgender — died in 2012.

Read the full article.

Pennsylvania still experiencing alarming increase in new syphilis infections

As of May 2016, Pennsylvania is still experiencing an alarming increase in syphilis cases, primarily among men who have sex with men (MSM). Over the last 5 years, Pennsylvania has experienced a 90% increase in syphilis infections. Most were men under the age of 30.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection. If it goes untreated, it can lead to serious health problems including paralysis, blindness, and dementia. In the late stages, the disease can damage internal organs and can result in death.  In its early stages, syphilis is 100% curable with simple antibiotics.

Syphilis can be transmitted through oral sex and although condoms can help prevent infection, they’re not an absolute guarantee against it.  

You can get syphilis and not have any symptoms, so the only way to know you’re infected is to get a simple blood test. As a result of the increase in syphilis cases, the Pennsylvania Department of Health recommends that all sexually active MSM get a routine syphilis test every 6 months. Several locations around the state have free syphilis testing, click on this link to find testing near you: hivtest.cdc.gov.

To find out more about Syphilis, go to www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/stdfact-syphilis.htm

You can also email medical help at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health by sending a message to rgy2@pitt.edu.