April is STD Awareness Month, an annual observance to raise public awareness about the impact of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) on the lives of Americans and the importance of preventing, testing for, and treating STDs (also called STIs, which stands for sexually transmitted infections). It is an opportunity to normalize routine STI testing and conversations about sexual health.
Today the O’Neill Institute released a new Quick Take document for STD Awareness Month. The document, Quick Take: The US STI Crisis, provides an overview of STIs in the United States. About 20 million new STIs occur each year. While not all STIs are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the growth in new reported cases is especially alarming. Since 2013, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis have all sharply increased – with more than two million of these infections reported to the CDC in 2017 alone. From 2013-2017, syphilis increased 80% to 101,567 cases, gonorrhea increased 67% to 555,608 cases, and chlamydia increased 22% to 1.7 million cases.
To reduce the number of STIs, we need to champion the importance of sexual health, including quality sexual health education in school settings. We also need increased investment in STI prevention, care, and treatment. The Quick Take document discusses specific opportunities for innovation in five areas: (1) vaccine development, (2) the treatment pipeline, (3) financing and pricing for STI diagnostics and therapeutics, (4) alternative screening and service delivery, and (5) program integration.
Urgent action is needed to respond to the STI crisis. We can and must do more to prevent and treat STIs.
The views reflected in this expert column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent those of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law or Georgetown University. This blog is solely informational in nature, and not intended as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed and retained attorney in your state or country.