According to the report, there were 207 cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Baltimore in 2018, along with 7,636 cases of chlamydia, 4,231 cases of gonorrhea and 210 cases of syphilis. Jackson, Mississippi; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; San Francisco, California; and Montgomery, Alabama, followed Baltimore, in that order, as the US cities with the net highest rates of STDs that year.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2018 that there were more than 2.4 million combined cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis across the country- with many overlaps among those afflicted, obviously. Cities with the largest jumps in STD rates between 2017 and 2018 included Columbus, Georgia; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Jackson, San Francisco and Baltimore.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are common sexually transmitted bacterial infections that often cause no symptoms. If left untreated, they can result in reproductive health problems, including pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility in women.
The CDC has also expressed concern over antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea. In the US, there is only one drug treatment for the disease: a shot of ceftriaxone followed by an oral dose of azithromycin. The purpose of azithromycin is to delay the progression of resistance to ceftriaxone. However, according to the agency, the rate of azithromycin resistance in the US increased from 1% of the population in 2013 to more than 4% in 2017, the year for which the most recent statistics are available.
Syphilis is a bacterial disease that can hijack the nervous system and lead to several serious symptoms, including difficulty coordinating muscle movements, paralysis, dementia and sensory deficits, according to the CDC. It can lead to very serious long term health issues, including brain disease and eventually death, if untreated. Syphilis also increases the chances of acquiring and transmitting HIV, a viral sexually transmitted disease that attacks the body’s immune system, namely the CD4 white blood cells.
If untreated, HIV can decrease the number of CD4 cells in the body, making it harder for the body to fight infections, a condition known as acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Although no cure currently exists for HIV, the virus can be controlled using antiretroviral therapy, which reduces the amount of the virus in the blood to undetectable - and thus untransmittable - levels.