The U.S. Is far From Free of Sexually Transmitted Disease
"The good news is we do know what works if we have the
resources and commitment to implement those programs," Valdiserri says.
Additional good news is that rates of babies being born with syphilis have gone
down by about half nationally.
One city that may need to take some pointers from Baltimore is
Indianapolis. The home of one of the most famous car races in the world is also
home to an incredibly high rate of syphilis, according to the new report.
Syphilis cases in Indy jumped by nearly 475% between 1997 and 1999. However,
health officials there provided WebMD with materials stating that syphilis
cases are now half of what they were at the same time last year. Indianapolis
attributes this success to galvanizing community groups, clergy, health
centers, jails, and minority organizations to educate people about the signs
and symptoms of syphilis and convince people to be tested.
In addition to syphilis and gonorrhea, another disease that is
worrisome to experts is chlamydia. Among women, untreated chlamydia infections
can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, a common cause of fertility problems.
Chlamydia, which is easily treated and cured, is increasing at a rate of about
three million new cases each year. The states with the highest rate of
chlamydia infections in young women are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia,
Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina,
Texas, and Wisconsin.
Experts at the conference say young people account for a large
percentage of the 15 million sexually transmitted diseases that occur each
year. They say teens must be made aware of the dangers of getting such diseases
and giving them to others. That also includes human papilloma virus -- or HPV
-- and venereal warts.
Research indicates that one in five teenagers have had four or
more sexual partners, says Judith Wasserheit, MD, MPH, another CDC official.
And by grade 12, about 65% of high-school students are sexually active.
Moreover, "the highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea among women occur
among adolescents," she says.