Health officials are voicing serious concern after it emerged that the US is experiencing a significant spike in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). 2.4 million cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis combined were recorded in 2018, an all-time high – learn more here.
The data was part of the Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report, which was published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The scale of the problem can be seen by the pace of new infections documented since 2014. Chlamydia went up 19 percent, gonorrhea rose 63 percent, primary and secondary syphilis grew 71 percent, while congenital syphilis soared 185 percent.
But this was in 2018 – what about now?
The preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released this month shows the steep escalation of an alarming national trend and comes as local health departments are still battling Covid and contending with an unprecedented monkeypox outbreak.
Due to lockdowns from Covid in 2020, STDs did get a bit of a reprieve from the historical trends. However, in 2021 the STD trends continued to a seven-decade high. The CDC data found total infections in 2021 surpassed 2020 figures, increasing from 2.4 to 2.5 million. See the historical trend in the chart below.
It should be noted that population growth will also make STDs rise, but no greater than the population growth trends. Nevertheless, STDs continued to increase with no signs of slowing. See more details here from the CDC report on STDs and the summary breakdown chart below.
So what is driving this trend in ever-increasing STD rates?
Leandro Mena, the director of the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, told Politico that chronic underfunding of public health programs is largely to blame. So a government agency’s solution is more money – who would have thought that?
Opioid and methamphetamine use – which increased significantly during the pandemic – are both leading to more HIV and hepatitis infections among people who share needles and to the spread of other STDs as more people trade sex for drugs and engage in unprotected sex.
Also fueling the rising rates, Mena said, are decreases in condom usage, particularly among young people, and taboos around sex that deter people from talking to their primary care doctors about STD prevention and treatment.
But do these reasons tell the whole story? A story perhaps no one wants to contemplate?
In general, to get an STD, one engages in unprotected sex. They call it a Sexually “Transmitted” Disease, after all. Generally, these sexual engagements are from multiple partner relationships, either by one or both partners. Though there is some evidence that some youth (men, believe it or not) are disengaging from sexual activities, others are not. In fact, the hypothesis is that there is another group of sexually active people who are quite active and are not monogamous.
With the rise of the LGBTQ+ communities driven by our “Culture War,” one needs to look at the emotional state of these communities – learn more here. For example, the Gay community tends to experience more domestic violence, on average, than heterosexual people. See below a chart of the emotional state of these identified lifestyle communities.
Cultural rot is in every community, though fertile ground for problematic behaviors tends to be higher in the LGBTQ+ communities, as shown above. The point postulated is that the more unstable a lifestyle is, the more apt that community could get involved in the cultural rot of promiscuity, leading to higher STD rates.
According to 2011 to 2015 CDC data, women between ages 25 and 44 had a median of 4.2 sexual partners, while men in that age group had a median of 6.1 sexual partners (these are medians, not averages). For gay men, the number is nearly double at 11.0. The more partners, the more potential STDs.
However, one can not just look at only the LGBTQ+ community – heterosexuals may be just as guilty of cultural rot. Perhaps it is just our hyper-sexualized society playing upon a population addicted to just about anything self-gratifying. Long-term trends of so call “cheating” are not very definitive. People may have lots of partners in sex but may not consider it cheating – i.e., serial monogamy or open relations. It is not the 1950s anymore. Casual dating and the “hook-up” generation are alive and well. Again, the more partners, the more potential STDs.
Is the cultural rot via the “Culture Wars” in America driving the rise in STDs? An inconvenient truth few will explore.
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