2017 was a record-breaking year but maybe not for the reasons we would have hoped. The number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) reached an all-time high in 2017. This number has continued to increase every year from 2013 and reached a record 2.3 million cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Syphilis and gonorrhea infections have increased by 76 and 67 percent, respectively, since 2013. This is both staggering and alarming.
Despite increases in cases of gonorrhea & syphilis, chlamydia continues to be the most commonly reported STI. Over 1.7 million cases were reported to the CDC in 2017, mostly in young women ages 15 to 24.
In regards to treating gonorrhea, there are still concerns over antibiotic resistance. While there have not been any known cases of treatment failure using the recommended two-dose therapy that includes ceftriaxone (Rocephin) and azithromycin, some are concerned there may eventually be a resistant strain of gonorrhea that does not respond to current treatment options. This concern emphasizes the need for new treatment options for gonorrhea.
While there are a multitude of reasons for the increase in STIs, many believe that the increase is directly related to the decrease in funding for STI prevention by state and federal government. Additionally, STI screening is not performed by medical providers at the level or frequency it should be. This is one reason having a medical provider you trust and with whom you can discuss your sexual history is key.
In our office, we perform routine screening for STIs, which includes “tri-site testing” when appropriate. Tri-site testing is testing the throat, rectum, and urine for gonorrhea & chlamydia. I find that many patients who are at-risk for rectal or oral STIs are not being properly screened. Again, this is why it is important to have a provider who has your best interests at heart and one who will ask you questions to determine what type of screening is appropriate.
If you have not been screened for HIV or STIs, please call our office at 404.888.0228 or reach us online to set up an appointment.
Jeremiah Robinson is a licensed and certified Physician Assistant at T. Douglas Gurley MD in Atlanta, GA.