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STD Report Underscores Urgent Public Health and Research Needs

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Showing a more than 100 percent increase in the numbers of infants affected by syphilis during the last five years, unprecedented incidence of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia, and the spread of gonorrhea resistant to multiple treatments, the 2017 STD Surveillance Report released by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control today represents a call for immediate and responsive action.

Steep rises in congenital syphilis, leading to miscarriages, deformities, premature births lasting harms, and deaths among newborns tell us that access to prenatal care that includes testing and treatment for the disease among pregnant women is inadequate, and must be sharply scaled up.

Increasing incidence of gonorrhea caused by antibiotic-resistant organisms tells us that effective treatments for the disease may soon be out of reach and that support for accelerated research and public health services are imperative.

Overall, the now record high of 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in 2017, a fourth consecutive year of significant increases, highlight policy and funding failures that must be addressed with robust, focused commitments to evidence-based responses. Effective diagnostic tools and medicines to easily detect and treat sexually transmitted diseases exist but are not making it to populations of greatest need.

Representing more than 11,000 infectious diseases and HIV specialists and care providers, the Infectious Diseases Society of America and The HIV Medicine Association are urging Congress and the administration to heed the report released by CDC today, and use its data to set an agenda of proven measures to meet this public health crisis. We will continue to call for increased funding for STD Prevention at the CDC to build public health infrastructure and personnel to provide follow-up and partner services for the more than two million new STD cases reported annually. Senate and House spending bills for 2019 provide $5 million that restores funding lost in a previous cut, but that amount still does not approach the support needed. We are calling for a recommitment to interventions that have been demonstrated to be effective and an end to funding for interventions, including abstinence-only education that are not supported by results. And we are calling for support for the diversity of clinics that rely on its funding and that play an important role in STD and HIV prevention.   

The report released today tells us that funding programs responding to sexually transmitted diseases at inadequate levels comes at a high cost, and that effective, coordinated responses across national, state and local levels will be essential.

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