There are about 20 million new sexually transmitted infections (STIs) each year in the United States, costing some $ 16 billion in direct medical costs, according to figures released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Young people are disproportionately affected, the agency said, with half of all new infections occurring in people aged 15 to 24.
“In general, the CDC has estimated the total number of infections during the calendar year, rather than the number of individuals infected, because a person may have more than one STI at any given time” or more than an episode of a single STI, officials said. noted. But “the CDC used conservative assumptions to generate its estimates, so the actual number of STIs in the United States may be even higher than expected.”
The new data highlights the unique challenges of each type of infection.
For example, the human papillomavirus (HPV) accounts for about 14 million of all new infections, according to the CDC. About 90% of HPV infections go away within two years without causing serious damage, but others can lead to disease, including cervical cancer in women. A vaccine is available and recommended for boys and girls aged 11 and 12; it protects against some of the more common types of HPV that can cause disease, according to the agency.
In contrast, HIV infects a much smaller number of 41,000 people each year, but lifelong treatment and care costs about $ 304,000 per person, and about 18,000 people with AIDS die each year in the United States. according to the data.
There are more than 110 million STIs nationwide among both men and women, according to the CDC. The majority of these are HPV infections, estimated at 79.1 million.
“Because some STIs – especially HIV – require lifelong treatment and care, they are by far the most expensive,” according to the analysis. In addition, HPV is particularly expensive due to the cost of treating HPV-related cancers. However, the annual cost of curable STIs is also significant ($ 742 million). Of these, chlamydia is the most common and therefore the most expensive. “
“All STIs are preventable. They are all treatable, and many are curable. But if left untreated, they can lead to pretty serious problems life-long and even death,” says Catherine Satterwhite, CDC epidemiologist and author main of new estimates.
“Individuals need to talk openly with their sexual partners and doctors about getting tested and they need to reduce their individual risk. They need to be vaccinated. They need to consider ways to reduce their risk, such as practicing abstinence, using condoms correctly and consistently every time, and being in a mutually monogamous relationship. “
The CDC recommends that adults and adolescents be tested for HIV at least once. Additional recommendations:
– All sexually active women aged 25 and under should be screened for chlamydia annually, as well as older women with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners.
– Sexually active women at risk, such as those with new or multiple sex partners, should be screened for gonorrhea annually.
– All pregnant women should be screened for syphilis, HIV, chlamydia and hepatitis B, and at-risk pregnant women should be screened for gonorrhea at the first antenatal visit.
– All HIV-positive women should be screened for trichomoniasis annually.
– All gay, bisexual or other sexually active men who have sex with men should be tested for syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV at least once a year; men who have multiple or anonymous male sex partners should be screened more frequently for STIs (three to six month intervals), and men who have sex with men and use illicit drugs such as methamphetamine, or who have partners who do, should be screened more often.