The Center for Disease Control released a report in Aug. 2018 that there was a record number of diagnosed STD cases last year. In 2017, there were nearly 2.3 million cases of gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia. This was an increase of 200,000 since 2016.
According to Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, the STD treatment systems in the country are at a near-breaking point. Rather than making steps forward to prevent and treat STDs, the country seems to be sliding backward as the diseases spread.
Public health officials believe that the increase is partially due to cuts in STD screening and marketing campaigns. People are hearing and seeing fewer messages about safe sex and condom use. Funding to the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention has also been cut in recent years. Since 2003, there has been a 40% decrease in purchasing power for the division, meaning that the local health departments have suffered. In recent years the CDC has had to close STD testing clinics, lay off workers, and reduce hours.
The widespread usage of PREP, a drug that prevents HIV contraction, has also made people too confident in their immunity against disease, leading them to not use condoms. Compounded with this false immunity, people are getting screened for STDs less frequently. Women can receive STD testing with their pap smears, but as those are only done every three years that screening has been done less often.
Many patients want to avoid talk about STDs with their doctor altogether and would rather skip the STD testing procedure. When patients don’t want to go into their neighborhood health clinic, they still have the option of at home STD testing. The kits for at home STD testing are fairly simple. The user collects a sample of saliva, urine, blood, or a genital swab, and then mail it to their lab. The results of at home STD testing are confidential and allow complete privacy for those who may be a bit skittish at their doctor’s office.
Whether a patient is tested in an office or at home, it has to be done. Untreated STDs lead to an increased risk for HIV, stillbirths, and infertility. If symptoms are bad enough, it could lead to an emergency room visit. The average ER visitor pays total costs of $1,318, according to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Getting tested for STDs is beneficial for your health and for your wallet in the long run.