Health Departments React with Alarm to New CDC Surveillance Data

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STD Rates Higher Than Ever While Funding For Prevention Declines

This report should serve as a wake up call to policymakers and the public that STDs remain a significant public health threat in the U.S., and a scaled up investment of funds are desperately needed for prevention and treatment

Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released national sexually transmitted disease (STD) surveillance data for 2007. The report shows persistent and staggeringly high rates of STDs as well as a disproportionate burden of infections on youth, minorities, and women. Upon the release of this information, the National Coalition of STD Directors called for a renewed commitment from Congress and President-elect Obama to fight the STD epidemic in the U.S.

In 2007, more than 1.1 million Chlamydia cases were reported, which is the largest number of cases ever reported to CDC for any condition. Rates of primary and secondary (P & S) syphilis increased by 15% from 2006, and 65% of all P & S syphilis cases were among men who have sex with men (MSM). In addition, the report shows persistent and growing racial disparities in Chlamydia, Syphilis, and Gonorrhea infections. In 2007, Blacks were 19 times more likely to become infected with Gonorrhea than whites.

"This report should serve as a wake up call to policymakers and the public that STDs remain a significant public health threat in the U.S., and a scaled up investment of funds are desperately needed for prevention and treatment," stated Don Clark, NCSD's Executive Director.

CDC estimates that approximately 19 million STD infections occur each year, and nearly half are among those aged 15-24 years. African American women between 15 and 19 are particularly hard hit, accounting for the highest rates of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea of any group. The consequences of untreated STDs include infertility, pregnancy complications, cervical cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, birth defects and an increased risk of HIV transmission.

While rates of STDs have continued to increase, federal funding for CDC's Division of STD Prevention has steadily declined since Fiscal Year 2003. This has significantly hampered the ability of STD programs in state and local health departments to deliver critical prevention and treatment services, as well as conduct surveillance. "State and local health departments are responsible for controlling this epidemic and often are the medical providers of last resort for persons with STDs. There needs to be a systematic reinvestment in the public health infrastructure to provide the necessary clinical services to diagnose and treat STDs and contact exposed partners to insure that they are treated and further spread is prevented," stated Dr. Peter Kerndt, NCSD Board Chair and STD Program Director from Los Angeles County.

"In addition to the need for a greater investment of resources for CDC's Division of STD Prevention, NCSD strongly urges Congress and President-elect Obama to support evidence-based prevention programs to prevent STDs, particularly for young people," stated Don Clark. More than $1.6 billion in federal funds have been spent on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, which have been unable to demonstrate effectiveness at delaying sexual activity, or reducing rates of STDs, including HIV/AIDS, or unintended pregnancy. Clark continued, "It is time to end these ineffective and harmful programs, and invest in science based approaches to STD prevention, including comprehensive sex education."

The 2007 STD Surveillance Report is currently available on CDC's STD home page:

The National Coalition of STD Directors is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association of public health sexually transmitted disease (STD) program directors in the 65 CDC directly funded project areas, which includes all 50 states, 7 cities, and 8 U.S. territories. As the only national organization with a constituency that provides frontline STD services, NCSD is the leading national voice for strengthening STD prevention, research and treatment. These efforts include advocating for effective policies, strategies, and sufficient resources, as well as increasing awareness of the medical and social impact of STDs.


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Suzanne Miller
National Coalition of STD Directors
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