Number of New STD Cases Breaks Record

DES MOINES, Iowa – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said new numbers in sexually transmitted disease cases have broken a record in the United States.

According to the CDC, in 2017 the United States saw 2.3 million new STD cases. The new case numbers have broken a record set back in 2016 by more than 200,000 cases in the country.

The 2.3 million cases include chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.

The CDC estimates more than half of STD cases are from people ages 15 to 24.

Nola Aigner with the Polk Country Department of Public Health said one reason for the increase can be a wider range of testing.

“This is an age group where they are not always using protection. They are having sex with multiple partners. They may not have a regular health care provider they see to get tested, or they do not have health insurance," said Aigner.

Des Moines Public Schools Health Teacher Joanna Winston said the students in her classroom often come in with a lot of misinformation about sexual health.

“They are bombarded with misinformation from social media, TV, things that they have heard so we take it from a very basic stand point. These are the functions of each of your body systems and then medically accurate contraceptive information,” Winston said.

Winston said the all health educators in the district follow national health standards when it comes to teaching students about sexual health.

Aigner said it is important for people to get tested every time they switch sexual partners.

“I think that we are in an age where people don’t think it will happen to them.”

Aigner said one in four people will have an STD in their life.

“Students have a misunderstanding that is they are going and getting regular physicals that also means they are getting STD and STI screens, which is not always the case,” Winston said.

Winston and Aigner agree it is important for parents, guardians and adult figures to begin having the uncomfortable conversation when it is age appropriate.

“They deserve to know about their own personal health and I don’t think a lot of people are having honest conversations with them about their sexual health,” Winston said.

In 2017, the Polk County Health Department saw 4,337 positive cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.

The Polk County Health Department charges $10 for residents and $25 for non-residents to test for STDs. The Project PHC in Des Moines gives free anonymous STD screenings.