Why Are Sexually Transmitted Infections Surging? - The New York Times
May 17, 2022 2 mins, 7 secs
In the early months of 2020, the number of people diagnosed with gonorrhea and syphilis declined, as you might expect — it was, after all, a time of extreme isolation for many.

Subsequently, though, infection rates surged so much that by the end of the year, the case counts were 10 percent and 7 percent higher than in 2019.

Louis County Sexual Health Clinic.

Indeed, syphilis was nearly eradicated in the United States around 2000; gonorrhea reached its lowest rates of infection in 2009.

At least 20,000 women are rendered infertile by untreated S.T.I.s in the United States each year.

Gonorrhea can be painful and may result in pelvic inflammatory disease in women.

Unfortunately, they are often asymptomatic, especially in women, and for them it can be harder to see signs of infection and easier to mistake some of those signs as normal discharge or yeast infections.

Cases among heterosexual women, on the other hand, increased 30 percent from 2018 to 2019 and 21 percent from 2019 to 2020, jumps that experts attribute in part to the increasing prevalence of opioid and methamphetamine abuse, which makes risky sexual behavior — transactional sex, condomless sex — more likely among all genders.

recommends testing for the infection at the first prenatal visit and, for women who test positive or are at increased risk, early in the third trimester as well as at delivery.

Reducing the burden of S.T.I.s will require outreach, particularly for marginalized groups, including women, people in the L.G.B.T.Q.

community, Native Americans and Alaskan Natives and people of color, all of whom suffer disproportionately high rates largely because the health care system has neglected them.

Black women, for example, have rates of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia that are as much as seven times that of white women, and they face additional hurdles to receiving sexual health care.

Black women, Irie says, must also contend with the “perceived stigma and perceived shame from their community” that receiving sexual health care means you don’t share its values, such as female monogamy.

To reach those who have been disenfranchised, providers need to be trained to offer sexual health care to patients who have experienced historical trauma and sexual trauma, including assault and abuse.

Louis, which has some of the nation’s highest rates of S.T.I.s, many barbershops and beauty salons offer testing information and free condoms; elsewhere, projects in partnership with churches have been able to increase mammograms and H.I.V.

“This is a systemic societal challenge.” Thus, talking openly about sexual health care stands to benefit everyone

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