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Washington (AFP) – Reported cases of numerous sexually transmitted diseases continued to increase in the United States in 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, American authorities alerted on Tuesday.
The Covid-19 crisis has accentuated an upward trend already observed for a decade, against the backdrop of declining public funding, according to Jonathan Mermin, author of a report for the American Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC). ).
Reported cases of gonorrhea as well as syphilis (primary and secondary stages) increased by 10% and 7% respectively compared to 2019.
Cases of syphilis in newborns, called congenital syphilis (with contamination during pregnancy), have also increased: by 15% compared to 2019, and by 235% since 2016.
Chlamydia cases have fallen by 13% compared to 2019, but according to experts this data does not show a real drop, knowing that this disease is often asymptomatic and detected during routine screenings – in sharp decline at the start of the pandemic. .
A total of 2.4 million new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were counted in 2020.
The Covid-19 occurred “at a very complicated time for screening for sexually transmitted infections” (STIs), explained Mr. Mermin during a press conference. “We already had a strained and struggling public health infrastructure. Many neighborhoods in the United States do not have specialized STI care centers. This has caused already rising trends to worsen.”
The consequences of congenital syphilis are the most serious, he stressed. They include miscarriages, stillbirths, and lifelong physical and mental health problems.
Cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) initially dropped in the early months of 2020 when lockdowns were in place, but then rose sharply.
The factors that played in the initial drop in the number of declared cases include a drop in health consultations and therefore screenings, but also the reassignment of personnel specialized in STDs to the management of the pandemic, or even shortages of tests.
Half of the STD cases were in people between 16 and 24 years old. Minorities (blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans) are disproportionately affected. And 42% of primary and secondary syphilis cases were diagnosed in gay or bisexual men.
Public funding for local clinics dedicated to these issues has been declining for several years. The most affected states are also often the least economically developed, such as Mississippi.
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