March 28th, 2011 | Published in STD Research & Statistics
How Many Americans Have STDs? More Than in Years Past
Many Americans know that sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, are a widespread health concern in the United States, but no one really knows exactly how many people are infected with these diseases. The CDC estimates there are 19 million newly acquired STD cases in the US each year. In fact, STDs are so common that more than half or sexually active adults will acquire an STD at some point in their life.
Part of the reason why it is so difficult to determine how many Americans have STDs is that many incidents of infection go unreported each year. Though the U.S. CDC has a fairly accurate idea of how many Americans have STDs, the organization tends to present its data with that particular caveat. When determining how many Americans have STDs, medical professionals base these numbers on positive test results. Since many STD are asymptomatic, many cases go unnoticed which causes underreporting and inaccurate reporting. The best and only way of calculating how many Americans have STDs is through tracking positive test results.
Recent CDC reports showed a drop in gonorrhea infection among all age and gender groups. Approximately 337,000 cases of gonorrhea were reported in 2009, yet the actual rate is much higher due to underreporting and cases that go undetected. Gonorrhea is most common among young women between the ages of 15 and 19.
Chlamydia rates, however, continued to climb. Over 1 million cases of Chlamydia are reported each year. Chlamydial infection rates are highest among teens and young adults. In males aged 15 to 19, approximately 735 out of every 100,000 contracted a Chlamydia infection. Males aged 20 to 24 had 1,120 cases for every 100,000 individuals; and the 25 to 29 age group showed 573 infections per 100,000 men. Females in 2009 were impacted by Chlamydia more so than males, with approximately 3,329 new cases reported among every 100,000 girls aged 15 to 19. In women 20 to 24 years of age, 3,274 new instances of Chlamydia were documented per 100,000; and for females aged 25 to 29, 1,234 new Chlamydia cases per 100,000 were diagnosed.
In an effort to determine how many Americans have STDs, the CDC concluded that as of 2009, over 50 million people were infected with the herpes virus. According to recent data, women are far more likely to contract herpes than men. Approximately one in nine men is infected with genital herpes, whereas one in five women is infected with genital herpes. Syphilis, by contrast, tends to be more dominant among men, particularly those who have sex with other men (MSM) and African Americans. Since 2001, the rate of syphilis infection among males has been climbing steadily, with approximately 7.8 per 100,000 men impacted as of 2009. While still rare, syphilis rates among women increased as well, from 0.8 cases per 100,000 women in 2004 to 1.4 cases per 100,000 in 2009.
How Many Americans have STDs like HIV and HPV?
HPV and HIV prevalence are among the greatest concerns to public and health in the U.S. since both diseases carry potentially fatal side effects. HPV, the human papillomavirus, has been linked to cervical cancer in women, and although benign, this virus can also cause genital warts in men and women. HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus, can ultimately progress to AIDS, a critical disease that weakens the immune systems leaving the body vulnerable to infections and illnesses. The CDC estimates that approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, and that 50 percent of sexually active individuals will contract HPV at some point in their lives. Though HIV prevalence in the U.S. is not as widespread, infection rates still climbed in recent years. While men who have sex with men account for more than half of all new U.S. HIV cases each year, 27 percent of annual new HIV infections can be attributed to females. However, of those infected with HIV, about one in four are unaware that they are positive.
How Many Americans Have STDs with Symptoms?
One of the greatest misconceptions surrounding STDs is that symptoms will always be evident upon infection. In reality, it is more common to never experience any noticeable signs for STDs. For example, among those infected, 75 percent of women will never experience symptoms of Chlamydia and 50 percent of men infected will never experience Chlamydia symptoms. Since signs of STDs may never surface in some individuals, many of those infected will never get tested but continue to pass infections on to their sexual partners. For this reason, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly how many Americans have STDs.
Transmission and Prevention of STDs
Considering how many Americans have STDs, it is important to understand how these infections are transmitted. STDs like Chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis, HPV, and HIV can be transmitted via vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse. Infections can be passed along even in the complete absence of symptoms. Only regular STD testing, coupled with protection during sexual activity, can limit how many Americans have STDs in the future. Meanwhile, those at risk for infection today should take steps to protect themselves accordingly.
Common misspellings for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis include: gonorrhoea, gonorrhoeao, ganaria, gonnorhea, gonorhea, klamydia, clamidia, chlamidia, klamidia, sifilis, syphillis, siphilis