Sexually Transmitted Disease Rates Soar: CDC

Will Dunham, Reuters, January 13, 2009

U.S. syphilis rates rose for a seventh year in 2007, driven by gay and bisexual men, while chlamydia reached record numbers and gonorrhea remained at alarming levels–especially among blacks, health officials said on Tuesday.

Blacks make up 12 percent of the U.S. population, but account for about 70 percent of gonorrhea cases and almost half of chlamydia and syphilis cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Black women ages 15 to 19 have the highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea, and gonorrhea rates for blacks overall were 19 times higher than for whites, the CDC said.

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In 2007, 1.1 million U.S. cases of chlamydia were reported, up from about 1 million in 2006 and the most ever, and the rate rose by 7.5 percent from the prior year, the CDC said in a report. Douglas said the figures may reflect that more people are being diagnosed rather than a rise in infections.

In addition, more than 350,000 cases of gonorrhea were reported in 2007, essentially unchanged from 2006, the CDC said. Gonorrhea rates fell dramatically from the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s, with little progress since.

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