STDs on the rise
The total number of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis cases in the U.S. has risen for the fifth consecutive year, hitting an all-time high. Cases of primary and secondary syphilis—the most infectious stages—increased 14 percent year over year, to more than 35,000; gonorrhea cases rose 5 percent to more than 580,000; and chlamydia increased 3 percent, to more than 1.7 million. “Not that long ago, gonorrhea rates were at historic lows, syphilis was close to elimination, and we were able to point to advances in STD prevention,” says Gail Bolan from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “That progress has since unraveled.” Health officials say more people are being screened for STDs, which means that more cases are being logged. But they also say fewer people are using condoms, particularly among high-risk populations such as sexually active high schoolers and men who have sex with men. One especially worrying trend, reports CNN.com, is the rise in congenital syphilis. That debilitating and deadly infection occurs when the disease passes from a pregnant mother to her fetus through the placenta. More than 1,300 infants were born with congenital syphilis last year; 94 of them died.