STI tipping point: It's time to make testing a public health priority - Primary Health

STI tipping point: It’s time to make testing a public health priority

  • April 8, 2024

  • Primary.Health Editorial Team

  • 2 minutes

STIs as public health priority

Primary Provider supports CDC’s goal of providing STI screening and treatment in non-traditional settings.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) pose a significant public health challenge worldwide, affecting individuals of all ages, genders, and sexual orientations. Yet again, in the United States, more than 2.5 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis were reported, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Sexually Transmitted Infections Surveillance, 2022

This CDC annual report, which provides the most current data for nationally notifiable STIs for federally funded control programs, underscores the need to make STIs a public health priority. 

“Some people face tremendous barriers to STI prevention and health services. So, the most important work is often outside the clinic, whether it be reaching out to communities with testing, interviewing patients to offer services to their partners, or delivering treatment directly to someone.”

Laura Bachmann, MD, MPH, Acting Director, CDC’s Division of STD Prevention

Report highlights

The most alarming CDC findings concern the worsening syphilis and congenital syphilis epidemics:

  • Syphilis cases (all stages and congenital syphilis) have increased 80 percent in the past five years. More than 3,700 congenital syphilis cases were reported in 2022, threatening the health of babies and reflecting a worrying 937 percent increase in the past decade.
  • Nearly every state reported having at least one congenital syphilis case, with Texas, California, Arizona, Florida, and Louisiana representing 57 percent of all reported congenital syphilis cases. These infections resulted in 282 stillbirths and infant deaths in 2022.
  • Syphilis continues to disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities, highlighting the need to address longstanding social inequalities. The highest number of cases occurred among those who are Black or African American, Hispanic and Latino, and white. American Indian or Alaska Native people experienced the highest rate of congenital syphilis—for every 155 births in 2022, there was one congenital syphilis case. Black or African American people experienced about 30 percent of congenital syphilis cases in 2022. 

On a positive note, reported gonorrhea cases declined for the first time in at least a decade while reported chlamydia cases were level.

Reverse the trend with accessible testing

In presenting the report, CDC acting director of the Division of STD Prevention Laura Bachmann, MD, acknowledged the United States has not faced such severe effects of syphilis in decades.

“We cannot continue to use decades-old prevention strategies to address today’s STI epidemic. People need testing and treatment to meet them where they are. We know treatment is not always received in traditional healthcare settings. We must continue supporting opportunities and initiatives that enhance and expand STI service delivery, care, monitoring, research, and training.”

Primary Provider testing and treatment solutions are designed to reduce the spread of infectious disease, including STIs. Powered by our robust software platform, Provider can transform almost any location into a care setting. Our programs to provide discreet community at-home STI testing advance health equity and reduce the stigma associated with an STI diagnosis.

Take the first step toward a healthier community! Partner with us to reduce the rate of STIs in your population, one test at a time.

Our latest healthcare newsletter delivered to your inbox.