ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — STD rates are on the rise – both across the country and right here in Florida.
Part of the problem is the increase is happening across different age groups, including teens and young adults.
In 2018 alone, 2.4 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were reported, according to the CDC. That is the record high for reported cases.
Congenital syphilis is of particular concern.
“So things that can happen in utero to a baby with congenital syphilis, we do see higher rates of miscarriage. And then we do see higher rates of something called fetal hydrous, where the baby goes into somewhat of a heart failure," Dr. Mary Ashley Cain, an OBGYN with USF Morsani College of Medicine explained.
"You get edema in the skin or fluid under the skin, fluid in the lungs, fluid in the abdomen. That can lead to stillbirth in the baby. After the baby is born that can result in developmental delays, liver failure, or other ongoing, chronic medical conditions.”
In the last five years, congenital syphilis has nearly tripled in the United States. Five states account for 70 percent of the cases: Texas, California, Arizona, Louisiana and Florida.
Cases are increasing even though syphilis is easily treated with penicillin.
“The most obvious reason would be barriers to care. That patients just simply not getting into the visits to get the testing. Or even once we know that it’s positive, getting into, getting in for treatment," Dr. Cain said.
The CDC says there are multiple factors that are contributing to the increase in STDs, including decreased condom use among vulnerable groups like teens and gay or bisexual men – and cuts to STD programs.
To combat this STD spike, the CDC is expected to release a federal action plan that will focus on STD prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care. It will be released some time this year.
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