More than 2 million cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis were reported in the U.S. last year, the highest number ever, according to an annual report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last month.

The Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report saw a majority of these new cases (1.6 million) as being the result of contracting chlamydia. There were 470,000 cases of gonorrhea, according to the data, and almost 28,000 cases of both primary and secondary syphilis (the most infectious stages of the disease).

“Increases in STDs are a clear warning of a growing threat,” said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “STDs are a persistent enemy, growing in number, and outpacing our ability to respond.”

Although all three STDs are curable with antibiotics, if left untreated, serious health consequences can result, a press release on the report states. Infertility, ectopic pregnancy (which can be life-threatening), stillbirth and an increased risk for HIV transmission are some of the dangers of being undiagnosed and untreated.

Overall syphilis rates increased by nearly 18 percent from 2015 to 2016, with the majority of cases occurring among men, especially those who identify as gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men (MSM). There was a 36 percent increase in rates of syphilis among women, and a 28 percent increase of the disease among newborns—known as congenital syphilis—during this period.

“Every baby born with syphilis represents a tragic systems failure,” said Gail Bolan, director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention. “All it takes is a simple STD test and antibiotic treatment to prevent this enormous heartache and help assure a healthy start for the next generation of Americans.”

Key findings of the study include:


  • Strengthening the congenital syphilis response with focused efforts to improve diagnosis and treatment of pregnant women and ensure prompt treatment of newborns at birth in the 10 states hardest hit by congenital syphilis.
  • Helping state and local health departments rapidly test for drug-resistant gonorrhea and quickly find and treat affected individuals, as part of the federal government’s Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (CARB) Action Plan.
  • Assisting state health departments and health clinics integrate STD prevention into care for people living with HIV.


“CDC uses its national-level intelligence to detect and respond to STD outbreaks while supporting the nation’s on-the-ground workers who are spending each day protecting communities from STDs,” Dr. Mermin stressed.

For more information from CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, visit its website.