STD rates are up; so is abstinence-only education. Notice a trend?

Hang on tight, everyone: sexually transmitted disease rates are up, up, up.

The incidence of gonorrhea, which had declined sharply, has risen in the last two years in this country while the number of chlamydia and syphilis cases continue to rise, federal health officials said yesterday.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the two most common diseases among those doctors must report in the United States. And the 1,030,911 cases of chlamydia in 2006 are the highest ever recorded for any nationally reported disease in any year, the officials said in releasing their annual report on sexually transmitted diseases. They said that because of underreporting, a more accurate estimate is 2.8 million new chlamydia cases annually.

About 19 million new cases of all kinds of sexually transmitted diseases occur in this country each year, but only the three are nationally reported. Genital herpes, papillomavirus and trichomonas infections account for the vast majority of cases, but doctors are not required to report them nationally.

Well, I’m really interested to see the numbers for other STDs, but I have to say that maybe this is a good rule — I’m not sure that I could stomach so much bad news in one day.

You think that this has anything to do with abstinence-only education and the fact that it doesn’t work (but Congress insists on fundig it, anyway)? Maybe telling people that condoms don’t work has made people decide to, you know, not use condoms? . . . Nah.

The three reported sexually transmitted diseases affect African-Americans disproportionately. The black to white ratios are gonorrhea 18 to 1, syphilis 6 to 1 and chlamydia 8 to 1, Dr. Douglas said in an interview. The reasons for the disparities are not clear. Lack of access to health care may be one problem.

. . . African-Americans account for 69 percent of all gonorrhea in this country. “The biggest increase in gonorrhea regionally has been in the South, and we do not have a ready explanation for that,” Dr. Douglas said.

Holy fucking shit. Yeah, I’d say that lack of health care access is indeed a problem. (As is the racism of lack of health care access, and that little education thing I just mentioned).

Luckily, people are coming up with new ways to handle the problem:

Chlamydia’s rise in incidence is due mainly to urging by the centers for annual testing of sexually active women under age 26. Current tests are more sensitive in detecting chlamydia than those used a few years ago. Most cases were among women who had no symptoms but could transmit the microbe.

Chlamydia screening has led to detection of the microbe among more men as their female partners advise them to get tested and treated to avoid re-infections. Infected individuals are advised to get re-tested about three months after treatment to make sure they are cured.

The centers are also encouraging doctors to give antibiotics and educational material to patients to give to their sexual partners who are reluctant to seek care. One aim of the practice, called expedited partners therapy, is to reduce re-infections. The practice is legal in 11 states and ambiguous or illegal in the 39 others.

Well, it’s a great idea, so of course people are going to have a problem with it. But as someone who has often had very limited money, I can certainly say that the only thing worse than getting sick when you can’t afford it is knowing what’s wrong with you, but having to pay to go to the doctor to get a prescription, anyway. I imagine that this has to be especially true when you’re not even experiencing any symptoms. And I have insurance, so I can only imagine the horror for those who don’t.

So, how long until this is somehow Planned Parenthood’s fault?
3 . . . 2. . . 1 . . .

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