CDC estimates 1 in 5 people in the U.S. have a sexually transmitted infection

The WHO says 1 million sexually transmitted infections are contracted every day. (Source: Gray...
The WHO says 1 million sexually transmitted infections are contracted every day. (Source: Gray News)
Published: Jan. 26, 2021 at 5:08 PM EST
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(WBTV) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are estimating that one in five people in the United States have a sexually transmitted infection or an STI.

New data published by the CDC estimate that on any given day in 2018, 1 in 5 people in the U.S. had a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

The analyses, published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseasesexternal icon, show the burden of diagnosed and undiagnosed STIs in the U.S. and the estimated medical costs associated with STIs.

It is estimated there were:

  • Nearly 68 million STIs on any given day in 2018 (prevalent STIs).
  • 26 million newly acquired STIs in 2018 (incident STIs).
  • Nearly $16 billion in direct lifetime medical costs resulting from STIs acquired in 2018.

“The burden of STIs is staggering,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “At a time when STIs are at an all-time high, they have fallen out of the national conversation. Yet, STIs are a preventable and treatable  national health threat with substantial personal and economic impact. There is an urgent need to reverse the trend of increasing STIs, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected many STI prevention services.”

STIs can have serious health consequences. People with these infections do not always experience disease symptoms, but, if left untreated, some STIs can increase the risk of HIV infection, or can cause chronic pelvic pain, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and/or severe pregnancy and newborn complications.

COVID-19 has underscored the underlying effects of systemic health and social inequities that put racial and ethnic minority groups and other populations at increased risk of infection.

Similarly, there is an ongoing disproportionate burden of STIs among certain racial and ethnic groups; among young people between 15 and 24 years old who accounted for nearly half of all new STIs in 2018; and among women, who account for a disproportionate burden of severe STI outcomes and medical costs.

Strategies used to overcome barriers associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have the potential to help reverse increases in STIs. Examples include:

  • STI express clinics that allow walk-in STI testing and treatment without a full clinical exam.
  • Partnerships with pharmacies and retail health clinics, which can provide new access points for STI services, such as on-site testing and treatment.

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