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CDC: Syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia rates on the rise

Sharp increases among men drove higher rates of infection, as have budget cuts to government health programs, researchers said.

By Stephen Feller
CDC: Syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia rates on the rise
CDC researchers recommend people use condoms correctly and consistently in order to prevent contracting an STD. Photo by Studio KIWI/Shutterstock

ATLANTA, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are on the rise nationally for the first time 2006, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with increasing rates among men responsible for a healthy portion of the increases.

Researchers write in the new report that regular screening is recommended for young people, many of whom may not suspectthey have an infection.

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"The consequences of STDs are especially severe for young people," said Dr. Gail Bolan, director of CDC's Division of STD Prevention, in a press release. "Because chlamydia and gonorrhea often have no symptoms, many infections go undiagnosed and this can lead to lifelong repercussions for a woman's reproductive health, including pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility."

In the study, researchers report the roughly 1.4 million cases of chlamydia have risen 2.8 percent since 2013, to 456.1 cases per 100,000 people.

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Rates of primary and secondary syphilis, or P&S, and gonorrhea also increased significantly by 15.1 percent and 5.1 percent from 2013 to 2014. The rates work out to 110.7 per 100,000 people infected with gonorrhea and 6.3 per 100,000 having P&S.

Rates of P&S have been increasing since 2000, especially in the case of men who have sex with other men, who accounted for 83 percent of the STD's carriers when the sex of the partner is known. Researchers also noted more than half of MSM diagnosed with syphilis in 2014 were HIV-positive -- which raises further concern that genital sores associated with syphilis could make it easier to transmit HIV.

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CDC researchers acknowledge that for gay and bisexual people, access to quality health care, homophobia, or stigmas may prevent them from prevention or treatment, which accounts for an even greater risk.

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Decreases in government funding of health efforts lessened the options available for many people, as well as the outreach and dissemination of information they are responsible for, may be responsible for some of the increases researchers said.

"Most recently, there have been significant erosions of state and local STD control programs," Bolan told NBC News. "Most people don't recognize that the direct clinical care of individuals with sexually transmitted diseases is supported by state and local funds and federal funds."

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