By Boris Mullayev
Published: September 26th, 2018
It is a good time to be alive. There have been advancements in technology that have improved the quality of living in the U.S. from the new iPhone XS (not pronounced “excess”) to the commercially-available jetpacks. Yet despite the progress the country has experienced in technological advancements, there has been consistent and significant regression in some aspects of sexual health within the U.S.
Sexually transmitted diseases have been on the rise consistently over the last four years and counting; according to researchers, cases of STDs have now reached record high levels within the country – topping America as the leading country in levels of STDs within the industrialized world. That’s not an award to be proud of! Researcher David Harvey nicknamed this unique time in history as “an absolute STD public health crisis in the country.”
The numbers are grim. A study published by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in 2017, reveals that cases of men inflicted with gonorrhea have almost doubled. The cases of syphilis have increased in frequency by 76%. There are also significant increases in the STD known as chlamydia. The number of people that have contacted STDs has increased and thus the risk of contracting STDs has also increased. Put simply: these are highly dangerous times to be having reckless, unprotected sex.
Yet the news gets even worse. Treatment against STDs is becoming less effective because the bacteria contained within the strains of infection is evolving and “getting smarter.” Gonorrhea is now immune to all forms of antibiotics except the dual therapy treatment of azithromycin and ceftriaxone. However, the Public Health England organization reports that a strain of super-resistant gonorrhea is now developing that is resistant to even this form of treatment. A man was reported to have contracted this “super STD” in the U.K on the 29th of March in 2018. This is part of a general trend of bacteria developing antibiotic resistance. As infections are getting “smarter”, forms of treatment will also have to get “smarter”. Gonorrhea could develop into a prevalent “super STD” that is immune to all forms of antibiotics and therapeutic interventions; this is an alarming cause for concern because gonorrhea is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world.
While it is important to fight the war on disease from the backend – by developing more effective forms of treatment or perhaps even more powerful forms of antibiotics – one can argue that it is even more important to fight this war from the frontend. It is time to implement positive changes within our society to efficiently address this health crisis. We cannot stand motionless while countless are suffering. The question that arises is, “What can be done to address this national health crisis?”
Many are simply unaware that they are living with STDs – especially since it is possible to have them without having visible symptoms. Thus, they fail to get early treatment that would have been a curing intervention and unknowingly pass on their infections to others.
Fidan Amber, a student attending Brooklyn College, speaks openly about her sexual health. She explains, “You always think that it won’t happen to you until it does, and now you have to live with it for the rest of your life. [And I didn’t want to get it checked because] it’s humiliating to see a doctor.”
It is of absolute vital importance to remove the stigma behind receiving STD screening within the culture that we live in. Perhaps, doctors should be mandated by law to suggest screening for STDs to the patients that come in to see them. Alternatively, screening should become an annual legal requirement for all citizens living within the U.S. This would raise awareness of this social issue, and awareness is the first step to improvement. After all, an increase in the prevalence of sexual education has been proven to decrease the spread of disease and rates of pregnancy. What have you done for your sexual health lately?