Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's)


  • Sexually transmitted infections (STI) include: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and human immunodeficiency virus. 

  • All 3 diseases, gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia, are all curable with antibiotics, but gonorrhea is growing increasingly resistant to treatment with antibiotics. 

    Most STD cases continue to go undiagnosed and untreated, putting people at risk for severe and often irreversible health consequences.  The economic burden to the U.S. health care system is nearly $16 billion a year. 

    Young people and gay and bi-sexual men face the greatest risk of infection, and there continues to be a troubling increase in syphilis among newborns, who are infected by their mothers.  (STD rates in U.S. hit record high, by Lena H. Sun, Washington Post, October 2016; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention annual report on STD's)

  • STD’s can be spread to children by child molesters, and pregnant women transmitting the infection to their babies.  
  • Having sex with anyone younger than 16 can lead to a charge of statutory rape.  The age of consent (age at which it is legal to have sex) in the state of Washington is 16.  The age of consent is 17 or 18 in many other states—and no states are lower than 16.  
Statistics
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted disease int he U.S.  The CDC estimates that nearly 80 million people are currently infected, and that about 14 million new infections occur annually among teenagers, as well as adults.  HPV can lead to cancer.  ("CDC report:  1 in 5 adults were infected by high-risk HPV," by Jia Naqvi, Washington Post, April 7, 2017) 

  • Infections from 3 sexually transmitted diseases have hit another record high.
    • More than 1.5 million cases of chlamydia were reported in 2015, up 6% from 2014.
    • About 400,000 cases of gonorrhea were reported in 2015, a nearly 13% increase from 2014.
    • The biggest increase was a 19% increase in syphilis cases, nearly 24,000. 
    • Americans ages 15 - 24 accounted for nearly 2/3 of chlamydia diagnoses and half of gonorrhea diagnoses in 2015.
    • Men who have sex with men accounted for the majority of new gonorrhea cases and the most contagious forms of syphilis.
    • Women's rate of syphilis diagnosis increased y more than 27% from 2014-2015.
    • Congenital syphilis, which occurs when the infection is transmitted from a pregnant woman to her baby, increased by 6%.
      (STD rates in U.S. hit record high, by Lena H. Sun, Washington Post, October 2016; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention annual report on STD's)

  • The rate of STI's in Spokane County significantly increased from 385 per 100,000 in 2009 to 498 per 100,000 in 2013.  Spokane County’s STI rate was significantly higher than the state’s rate in 2013 (438 per 100,000).  Contracting an STI was more likely among adults 18-34 years of age and females.  In 2013 in Spokane County, the rate of hospitalizations due to a drug-resistant organism was 90 per 100,000 population. This was significantly higher than Washington state (74 per 100,000). The rate remained stable from 2009 to 2013. Having a drug-resistant infection increased as age increased and was more likely among whites.  (Spokane Counts 2015, page 11, Spokane Regional Health District)

  • The CDC calls STD’s a hidden epidemic.  18 million Americans get a new STD every year, and 2/3 of them are under the age of 25, representing 8-10,000 teens per day.  About 25% of American teens say they have had sex before the age of 16.  (CDC).  This is an alarming, disproportionate statistic among our youth.
  • l in 4 teen girls in the U.S. has at least one Sexually Transmitted Disease (such as, HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, HPV, Chlamydia, trichomoniasis, herpes) and 18% have HPV.  Many may not know they have a disease or that they are passing it to their sex partners.  In addition, these girls are at risk for the serious health effects of untreated STD’s, including infertility and cervical cancer.  (The Center for Disease Control)  

What Parents Can Do
  • Remember—you have a great influence on your children.  Study the critical information available on STD’s, and teach your children accordingly.  The average age of a girl’s first sexual intercourse is age 15.
  • Teach your children values at a very young age, and set limits which will make them feel loved and secure.  Be honest with your children about your feelings about pre-marital sex.
  • Develop a good relationship with each of your children from an early age.  
  • Remove media from your home where the language and images are very sexual, provocative, and also degrading to women.
  • Review all of the books your children are reading in school—and discuss with your children the sexual material therein. 

  • Health care providers are urged to make STD screening a standard part of medical care, especially in pregnant women.  Individuals need to get tested regularly and reduce risk by using condoms.  (STD rates in U.S. hit record high, by Lena H. Sun, Washington Post, October 2016; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention annual report on STD's)
Local Organizations