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New STD Report Finds Some Progress, High Costs for U.S.

MONDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- The approximately 19 million new sexually transmitted disease (STD) infections that occur each year in the United States cost the health care system about $16.4 billion annually, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its annual STD report released Monday.

The data for 2009 shows a continued high burden of STDs but there are some signs of progress, according to the report, which focuses on chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.

The national rate of reported gonorrhea cases stands at 99 cases per 100,000 people, its lowest level since record keeping started in 1941, and cases are declining among all racial/ethnic groups (down 17 percent since 2006).

Since 2006, chlamydia infections have increased 19 percent to about 409 per 100,000 people. However, the report suggests that this indicates more people than ever are being screened for chlamydia, which is one of the most common STDs in the United States.

For the first time in five years, the syphilis rate among women did not increase in fact, it fell by 7 percent. Between 2004 and 2008, the syphilis rate among women had increased by 88 percent. The report also found that cases of syphilis transmitted from a mother to child did not increase for the first time in four years.

The overall syphilis rate in the United States last year was 4.6 per 100,000 people.

While those trends are encouraging, STD rates among some racial and ethnic minority groups are much higher than among whites, the CDC said. Young blacks are especially at risk. Poverty and lack of access to health care are among the reasons for these racial disparities, the CDC says.

Regardless of race or gender, adolescents and young adults remain at greater risk for STD infections than older adults.

STD screening can help detect disease early and, combined with treatment, is one of the most effective ways to protect a person's health and prevent STD transmission to other people. But less than half of people who should be screened get tested for STDs, the CDC said.

Untreated STD infections can increase the risk of HIV infection and other health problems such as infertility and brain, cardiovascular and organ damage.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has more about STDs.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, Nov. 22, 2010

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