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US State Grapples with High STI Rates, CDC Shows Concerns

US State Grapples with High STI Rates

United States: The United States has been dealing with the upsurge of Sexually Transmitted Infections, and Philadelphia is one of the states that is witnessing a high number of cases linked to STI rates.

Philadelphia is one of the states in the country which is seeing very high number of cases, the data has been released by study released by CDC comparing the rate of infections in around 100 cities.

The state was ranked fifth in 2023 and it is to be noted that the state have remained in top five for several years.

Contributing Factors to Escalating STI Incidence

No health authorities were available for commentary, yet Dr. Judy O’Donnell, an epidemiologist, and Chief of Infectious Diseases at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, has extensively monitored STIs in Philadelphia, according to whyy.org.

“There exist populations that are notably challenging to engage,” O’Donnell remarked, “and this difficulty significantly impedes the effective management and transmission prevention of these infections.”

Especially notable in recent times, the COVID-19 pandemic has impeded timely access to medical attention, resulting in an escalation of STI occurrences nationwide.

Beyond the pandemic, O’Donnell asserts that elements linked to social determinants of health have also bolstered rising rates in Philadelphia.

“Factors such as economic deprivation, age demographics, specific ethnic and racial communities may face heightened barriers to healthcare access, in addition to homosexual and bisexual males being potentially at elevated risk,” she elucidated. “This correlates with demographics vulnerable to these infections, demographics encountering limited healthcare accessibility, and individuals experiencing societal stigma regarding STD testing.”

US State Grapples with High STI Rates
US State Grapples with High STI Rates

Notably, individuals aged 15 to 24 exhibit some of the highest incidence rates — partly due to their lower likelihood of having concurrent health issues prompting medical attention or potential discomfort in broaching discussions regarding their sexual health, as reported by why.org.

“I would posit that the majority of positive diagnoses we encounter pertains to younger individuals,” remarked Sam Wilburn, a nurse practitioner at the Mazzoni Center, an organization serving Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community, offering medical and wellness provisions, including STI examination and treatment.

“While the revelation of Philadelphia as the city with the highest STI incidence in the nation is disheartening, it presents an opportunity for reconsidering engagement with healthcare. This age group often lacks a primary healthcare provider. Utilizing this scenario as a catalyst for greater engagement in healthcare could yield significant positive outcomes,” Wilburn added, as reported by why.org.

Notable STIs of Concern

One of the paramount STIs currently concerning public health experts, according to O’Donnell, is syphilis, which has witnessed a troubling surge both locally and nationally in recent years — escalating by 80 percent across the nation from 2018 to 2022 and by a staggering 937 percent among newborns over the past decade.

“The occurrence of congenital syphilis cases in Philadelphia or Pennsylvania was once an anomaly but has now become distressingly common,” O’Donnell lamented. “Regrettably, instances of congenital syphilis signify the absence of timely prenatal care, leading to in-utero transmission from mother to child. This is a preventable affliction and represents a significant missed opportunity, as congenital syphilis can have devastating consequences for newborns.”

Wilburn has observed elevated rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea among his clientele while also noting a surge in HIV infections following the onset of the pandemic.

US State Grapples with High STI Rates

“Many individuals were previously utilizing PrEP as a preventive measure against HIV,” Wilburn noted. “However, due to reduced sexual activity amid the pandemic restrictions, many discontinued PrEP. Thus, the increased HIV incidence in 2021, 2022, and 2023 was somewhat unexpected,” according to whyy.org.

Some public health officials express apprehension that the proliferation of HIV and other bloodborne STIs, such as syphilis, may worsen before witnessing improvement, particularly in light of the mayor’s office’s decision to slash nearly USD 1 million in funding to Prevention Point, a harm reduction and social services organization based in Kensington. Prevention Point administers a needle exchange program, providing sterile syringes to substance users.

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