Health News

Americans have more STDs than ever — especially in Mississippi, new report says

Sexually transmitted diseases are at an all-time high in Mississippi and across the country, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control says.

The federal agency publishes an annual report on the number of STD cases across the country, and the report released Tuesday for 2016 shows STD cases have risen for the third year in a row after steadily decreasing since 2006.

“Increases in STDs are a clear warning of a growing threat,” said Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. “STDs are a persistent enemy, growing in number, and outpacing our ability to respond.”

The majority of new cases — 1.6 million — were chlamydia, which is the most commonly reported STD and has serious long-term effects for women if left untreated.

“Young women (ages 15-24) account for nearly half (46 percent) of reported cases and face the most severe consequences of an undiagnosed infection,” the CDC said in a press release.

“Untreated STDs, like chlamydia and gonorrhea, put women at increased risk for pelvic inflammatory disease which may result in chronic pelvic pain, infertility and potentially a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy. It is estimated that undiagnosed STDs cause infertility in more than 20,000 women each year.”

Mississippi had a significant jump in chlamydia cases last year, 17,112 to 20,112 from 2015 to 2016. But the state for the first time recently has the highest rate of gonorrhea in the country.

The CDC said the steepest increases in gonorrhea cases across the nation are among men that have sex with other men.

“These trends are particularly alarming in light of the growing threat of drug resistance to the last remaining recommended gonorrhea treatment,” the press release said.

Reasons for the increasing rates include decreasing condom usage, a lack of awareness among doctors and patients, and a falling number of STD clinics, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Mississippi State Department of Health as of July 1 implemented a $25 fee for all STD and HIV tests, the Clarion-Ledger reported. The tests had been free, but the Legislature has been slashing budgets statewide, including for the Department of Health. However, the department has since suspended the fee and the tests are currently free.

Louisiana has historically had the highest rates of STDs in the nation, said Director of the Division of STD Prevention Gail Bolan in a statement, but the state’s work to reverse that is an example to others.

“By tackling their burden on multiple fronts, Louisiana is gaining ground in spite of an uphill battle,” Bolan said. “For example, with syphilis, they’ve increased testing and reduced time to treatment in public health clinics. In 2016, the number of CS (congenital syphilis) cases decreased for the first time in five years. With expanded extragenital gonorrhea and chlamydia testing, they also diagnosed 165 cases that would have otherwise been missed.”

“These budding achievements are a strong reminder to us all that good prevention remains in reach. Reversing our growing STD burden will take a lot of work, and it won’t happen overnight, but it is worth it.”

For detailed information on how to know if you have an STD, visit www.cdc.gov/std/healthcomm/fact_sheets.htm

Lauren Walck: 228-896-2393, @laurenwalck

STD rates in Mississippi

Chlamydia (rank)

Gonorrhea (rank)

Syphilis* (rank)

2016

20,112 (3rd)

7,157 (1st)

326 (7th)

2015

17,371 (5th)

5,775 (3rd)

219 (12th)

2014

19,605 (2nd)

5,625 (2nd)

189 (13th)

2013

17,464 (5th)

5,096 (3rd)

78 (37th)

Where to get tested

  • Coastal Family Health Center, Inc., 715 A Division St., Biloxi, 228-374-4991, www.coastalfamilyhealth.org
  • South Mississippi AIDS Task Force, 2756 Fernwood Road, Biloxi, 1-877-385-1214, www.smatf.com

Mississippi State Health Department locations:

  • D’Iberville WIC Center, 4046 Suzanne Drive, 228-396-5194
  • Gulfport WIC Center, 330 Courthouse Road, 228-897-7630
  • Gulfport WIC Center, 12451 Dedeaux Road, 228-539-4220
  • Pascagoula WIC Center, 4400 Chicot Road, 228-769-0130
  • Bay St. Louis WIC Center, 10222 Hwy. 603, 228-467-1086
  • Wiggins WIC Center, 1061 Central Ave. West, 601-928-2139
  • Lucedale WIC Center, 10 Suzanne St., 601-947-6352
  • Carriere WIC Center, 7063 Hwy. 11, 601-798-5635
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