graph_up.jpgThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released new estimates showing the health and economic toll of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in America, particularly among young people.

The two new studies –published online in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases– provide estimates of the number of annual new infections, total number of STIs, and medical costs of treating these STIs. 

Key findings include:

Each year in the United States, there are nearly 20 million new STIs, half of them among young people (ages 15-24).

There are more than 110 million STIs overall (both new and long-standing infections) among men and women nationwide. The total lifetime cost of treating the nearly 20 million STIs contracted in just one year is almost $16 billion, placing a significant economic strain on the U.S. healthcare system.

The CDC’s analyses include eight common STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B virus (HBV), herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), HIV, human papillomavirus (HPV), syphilis, and trichomoniasis. 

While experts say many of these STIs – particularly HPV – will not cause serious harm, several infections do have the potential to cause severe health problems if not diagnosed and treated early.

While the consequences of untreated STIs are often worse for women, and include infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and cervical cancer, the new analysis reveals that the annual number of new infections is roughly equal among young men and young women. 

Given that STIs are so widespread among the general population, many Americans are at substantial risk of exposure to STIs, underscoring the need for STI prevention, particularly among young people.

The CDC urged that all sexually active individuals talk to their healthcare providers about STI screening, which is the first critical step to protecting their health and preventing transmission to others.