According to the CDC, which announced the findings Tuesday at the National STD Prevention Conference in Washington, DC, there were nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis diagnosed in 2017, which marks an increase of approximately 200,000 compared to 2016. The most prevalent STD diagnosis last year was chlamydia, which tallied more than 1.7 million new cases.
The annual STD Prevention Conference is hosted by the CDC and the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD).
The agency also revealed that this is the US' fourth consecutive year of "steep and sustained" increases in STD cases. There were 1.7 million cases of the three STDs in 2013, 1.8 million in 2014, 1.9 million in 2015 and 2 million in 2016. The CDC also claimed that the real number of cases may be higher, as many cases go undiagnosed.
Although chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are all curable with antibiotics, they can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancies, stillbirths and an increased risk of HIV if not treated, according to the CDC.
One issue of concern, the CDC noted, is antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea. In the US, there is only one drug treatment for the STD: a shot of ceftriaxone followed by an oral dose of azithromycin. The purpose of the azithromycin is to delay the progression of resistance to ceftriaxone.
However, according to the agency, azithromycin resistance in the US has increased from 1 percent of the population in 2013 to more than 4 percent in 2017. The number of global gonorrhea cases has increased by 67 percent during the last five years.
"We are sliding backward," Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and Tuberculosis Prevention, said in a statement released Tuesday.
"It is evident the systems that identify, treat and ultimately prevent STDs are strained to the near-breaking point."
According to NCSD, there isn't enough federal funding for STD prevention; around $70 million in fundings is required to prevent the numbers from growing further.
"It's not a coincidence STDs are skyrocketing — state and local STD programs are working with effectively half the budget they had in the early 2000s," NCSD Executive Director David C. Harvey said Tuesday.
"If our representatives are serious about protecting American lives, they will provide adequate funding to address this crisis. Right now, our STD prevention engine is running on fumes."