A U.S. sexually transmitted diseases epidemic is increasing and the most common infection, chlamydia, has risen to record levels, government officials say.
Reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis all increased in 2014. Chlamydia cases had dipped in 2013, but last year’s total of more than 1.4 million — or 456 cases per 100,000 — was the highest number of annual cases of any condition ever reported to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The chlamydia rate was up almost 3 percent from 2013, the CDC reported.
Sexually transmitted diseases are among more than 70 diseases that are reportable to the CDC, including measles, chickenpox and tuberculosis. Flu is reported differently, by hospitalizations.
“America’s worsening STD epidemic is a clear call for better diagnosis, treatment, and prevention,” said the CDC’s Dr. Jonathan Mermin.
Gonorrhea cases totaled 350,062, up 5 percent from 2013, and the most contagious forms of syphilis jumped 15 percent to 20,000. As in previous years, the syphilis increase was mainly in gay and bisexual men.
Most gonorrhea and chlamydia infections were in 15-to 24-year-olds, an ongoing trend. Both can cause infertility in women but can be treated with antibiotics. They often have no symptoms, and while yearly screening is recommended for sexually active women younger than 25, many don’t get tested and infections go untreated, the CDC said.
Wisconsin reported 27,168 cases of STDs diagnosed in 2014, which amounts to 483 per 100,00. Chlamydia led the pack with 22,837 new cases.
Syphilis cases in Wisconsin were the highest in the past decade, while chlamydia and gonorrhea were slightly lower than last year.
Eighty-seven percent of reported syphilis cases were among men, while 70 percent of chlamydia cases were among women.
Sixty-seven percent of all STD cases were reported among women.
Milwaukee County reported the highest STD rate, with 1,250 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the Wisconsin Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Data, reported by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. The zip codes just west of Lake Michigan in the northern two-thirds of Milwaukee County were hit hardest.
Menominee, Kenosha, Dane and Racine rounded out the state’s top five counties, in that order.
Nationwide, Bible Belt cities topped the STD list.
Montgomery, with a population of 201,332, reported 1,899.29 cases per 100,000. Following Montgomery is St. Louis, which had 1,867.54 reported cases per 100,000, and, with a population of only 25,545, West Memphis, Arkansas, ranked third, with 1,717.20 reported cases per 100,000.
Rounding out the top 10 cities were: New Orleans, Killeen, Texas, Fayetteville, North Carolina, Norfolk Naval Base in Norfolk, Virginia, Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas and Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C.
The military stations took the fifth, ninth and 10th spots, respectively.