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Sexually transmitted diseases: 12 million new U.S. cases yearly

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Citing various governmental data and medical literature collected by the Medical Institute for Sexual Health in Austin, Texas, family physician Don Buckley outlined the growth of sexually transmitted diseases in America in a Feb. 19 presentation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:

— Before 1960, only syphilis and gonorrhea were important STDs, and they were easily treatable.

— In 1976, chlamydia, an infection of a woman’s uterus and fallopian tubes, is first reported, although few cases. Today, chlamydia is the most commonly reported bacterial STD in the US.

— In 1981, HIV, the virus which causes AIDS, is first identified with a few cases, which grew to more than 1 million infected people and 270,000 deaths at the end of 1994.

— In 1982, herpes infections become common with almost 25 percent of the American population having acquired it by the age of 30. TIME magazine did a cover story in 1982, calling herpes the “new scarlet letter.”

— In 1990, penicillin-resistant strains of gonorrhea are found in all 50 states.

— In 1991, human papilloma virus (HPV), causing genital warts and cancers among both sexes, becomes frequently reported infection, especially among young people.

— In 1992, syphilis is at 40-year high, although it is 100 percent sensitive to penicillin. While in recent years the number of cases has dropped from the 1992 high, the rate of infection continues to be high.

— In 1993, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), usually caused by chlamydia or gonorrhea, has become a significant problem. One million women, including 16,000 to 20,000 teenagers, are infected annually. PID can cause infertility.

— In 1995, a 600 percent increase in the rate of tubal pregnancies per 1,000 reported pregnancies is noted. Although the entire increase cannot be attributed to STDs, a significant portion come from chlamydia and gonorrhea.

— Today, the Centers for Disease Control says 12 million people are newly infected with STDs every year in America. One in five Americans now have a viral form of STDs. Sixty-six percent of newly infected people are less than 25 years old. Teens are 25 percent of all new cases, although they represent less than 10 percent of the population.

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