A new report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has found that 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections (STI) are diagnosed each year, a number that experts are calling an “ongoing, severe epidemic.”
Several new studies based on the report, which were published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases, found that the U.S. now has 110 million cases of sexually transmitted diseases. These occur at a rate of 19.7 million new infections a year, half of which affect people ages 15-24.
The report estimates infection rates and medical costs related to the eight most common STIs – chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B, HIV and trichomoniasis. According to the CDC, 20 million new incidents of infection in the United States costs an estimated $16 billion in direct medical costs.
The U.S. now has the highest rate of STIs in the industrialized world.
The number of new infections has been growing steadily over the last few decades. In 1996, there were 15 million new infections reported. In 2000, that number climbed to 18.9 million.
“STIs take a big health and economic toll on men and women in the United States, especially our youth,” CDC epidemiologist Catherine Lindsey Satterwhite told NBC News.
Because every STI is preventable, Satterwhite said, “we know that preventing STIs could save the nation billions of dollars each year.”
The number one recommendation from the CDC on how to prevent STI infection is the most simple and cost-effective approach – abstain from sex.
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