A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls it an “epidemic.” Reported cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis all increased between 2020 and 2021 – reaching a total of more than 2.5 million reported cases nationwide.
While troubling, the report came as no surprise to infectious disease experts at Parkland Health. According to data published in the 2022 Dallas County Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), reported cases of syphilis and gonorrhea have increased every year in Dallas County since 2015.
“STIs are increasing, and most people who have STIs do not have symptoms. The only way to know you have an STI is to be tested regularly,” said Helen King, MD, Infectious Disease Specialist at Parkland Health and Assistant Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases and Geographic Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “Having untreated STIs can impact your ability to have children, so it is so important to get tested regularly and treated.”
According to the CHNA, Dallas County recorded more than 3,000 cases of syphilis and more than 10,000 cases of gonorrhea in 2020. Although slightly down from the year prior, more than 17,000 cases of chlamydia were still reported in 2020 and 688 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in Dallas County as well.
April is STI Awareness Month, but Parkland offers testing, treatment and STI education year-round throughout our health system, including at our 16 Community Oriented Primary Care (COPC) health centers and through our Access to Care & Coverage Program, which brings Parkland to a neighborhood near you.
“Parkland is committed to reducing STIs in our community by empowering our community members to take control of their sexual wellness,” said Dr. King. “Getting tested, getting treated, and talking to your provider and partners about options to protect your sexual wellness can keep you safe and healthy.”
Having an STI can increase your chances of acquiring HIV, according to Dr. King who adds that anyone who is having sex should learn about their options to prevent STIs and HIV, including testing, condoms and PrEP, the medication that prevents HIV.