Health Officials Warn Of STD Epidemic In The U.S.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Valentine's Day that recent studies show a current epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases in the United States. Medical costs to the American healthcare system are nearly $16 billion and the CDC estimates there are 20 million new infections each year. 

Infections are more prevalent among the younger population: half of all new sexually transmitted infections occur in young men and women. Reports suggest there are more than 110 million nationwide cases of STIs among men and women, with more infections found in women. The data analysis focused on eight common forms of STIs chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B virus (HBV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), human papillomavirus (HPV), syphilis and trichomoniasis.

The startling estimates were taken from national surveys, national disease case reports and other data from select projects. Most of the data was pulled from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to estimate the most prevalent infections. Actual numbers of the estimates may be higher, as not all cases are reported.

HPV was named as the most common form of STI and most sexually active men and women will contract HPV during their lifetime, so everyone is at risk. Vaccines for HPV are recommended and may be beneficial if provided before and individual ever has sex. The CDC recommends vaccinations to all females between the ages of 13 through 26 and males ages 13 through 21. For gay and bisexual man, the CDC recommends vaccinations from age 13 to 26.

Lifetime treatment costs of the eight common STIs place a significant economic strain on the United States healthcare system. Some STIs are more costly: HIV, for example, requires lifelong treatment. The fact that HPV can cause HPV-related cancer makes treatment particularly expensive. The annual cost of STIs that are curable is $742 million. Chlamydia is the most common and most costly.

 "STIs take a big health and economic toll on men and women in the United States, especially our youth," CDC epidemiologist Catherine Lindsey Satterwhite told NBC News.

The CDC recommends that individuals who are sexually active should discuss STI testing with their healthcare providers. 

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