STD Rates Continue to Surge in United States


Surging rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis have affected new populations nationwide.

The number of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) reported in the United States has reached a record high, with more than 2 million cases recorded in 2016, according to the annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Report released by the CDC. The latest surveillance data indicate that surging rates have affected new populations.

The report documented cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis nationwide. Among them, chlamydia dominated new diagnoses at 1.6 million cases, followed by 470,000 cases of gonorrhea and almost 28,000 of primary and secondary syphilis.

Chlamydia rates are highest among adolescent and young adult women. However, based on the latest data, an increased number of men, including gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM), have been tested and diagnosed with chlamydia.

Syphilis rates have increased by nearly 18% from 2015 to 2016. Most of these patients were men, especially MSM. Rates increased by 36% in women and 28% in newborns during this period as well. More than 600 cases of congenital syphilis were reported in 2016, resulting in 40 deaths and severe health complications among newborns.

Increased gonorrhea rates demonstrate alarming concern due to the threat of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea strains, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned in a recent report. The greatest increase in overall gonorrhea cases was seen among men (22%), especially MSM. According to the report, antimicrobial resistance should be considered in the treatment of gonorrhea. The CDC recommends dual therapy with ceftriaxone and azithromycin.

In a press release about the report, the CDC listed its targeted efforts, which include:

  • Strengthening the congenital syphilis response with focused efforts to improve diagnosis and treatment of pregnant women and ensure prompt treatment of newborns at birth in the 10 states hardest hit by congenital syphilis.
  • Helping state and local health departments rapidly test for drug-resistant gonorrhea and quickly find and treat affected individuals, as part of the federal government’s Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (CARB) Action Plan.
  • Assisting state health departments and health clinics integrate STD prevention into care for people living with HIV.


  • 2016 Sexually Transmitted Diseases Surveillance [report]. CDC’s website. 2017. Accessed September 26, 2017.
  • STDs at record high, indicating urgent need for prevention [news release]. CDC’s website. Accessed September 26, 2017.

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