If you are an American who is cautious, fortunate, or celibate enough to have avoided contracting yourself a sexually transmitted disease, do me a favor and play this little game. Go round-up two of your friends. Now stand between them, three abreast. Look to your left and look to your right. Chances are one of those two friends has an STD, according to a new and rather unpalatable report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The report was detailed in the Health section of the New York Times on September 29, 2017. It estimated that 110 million Americans are now infected with an STD. There are only 325 million of us, you guys. That means about a third of you all are infected (don’t look at me — I am clean!).
The report states that chlamydia is the most common STD within the general population of the United States. In terms of U.S. military members, for you the most common STD is Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. That is according to a 2015 report in Military Times. More specifically, HPV cases are those reported most frequently in the military health system, anyway. Following HPV in terms of incidences within the U.S. military is chlamydia, herpes simplex, and gonorrhea.
Distressingly, rates of syphilis increased in all age groups, and across all races, according to the CDC report. That particular scourge had also dramatically increased in the military as of 2015, per the Military Times report. Syphilis is of course highly contagious, and if left untreated can cause blindness, dementia, and paralysis. While the CDC pointed out that the disease had been on the verge of extinction at the turn of this century, the rate doubled in the United States from 2000 to 2014. That is according to analysis of data from the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS), published in the May 9, 2014, issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The CDC also reported that from 2015 to 2016, gonorrhea infections increased just over 22 percent among men and almost 14 percent among women in the United States.
The burning question is then, what conclusions should one pull out of all this new data? Are we having more sex these days? According to a March 2017 study released in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, American adults have less sexual intercourse now than they did in the 1990s. So it is not an issue of more sex. Maybe we are having more unprotected sex, then. According to an article in Men’s Health in March 2017, about 65 percent of Americans reported having unprotected sex. Within that group, almost 30 percent reported that they never use a condom during sex.
One must surmise then, that what we are seeing in these increased rates of STDs in America is the depressing result of a decrease in safe sex practices. Wrapping up our penetrating look into this alarming trend then, it appears that collectively we need to do a better job of once again discharging our duty to preach and practice the tenants of safe sexual behavior. It seems like the old adage is still true: “Love is cleaner if you package your wiener.”
Featured image courtesy of Wikipedia.