Sexually Transmitted Disease rates across the US just keep rising. “We’re documenting an increase in STDs for the fifth year in a row,” says Elizabeth Torrone of the CDC. In 2018, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, and Chlamydia cases reached an all-time high and as of 2019, 2.5 million STD cases were reported. Even more worrying is that it’s likely that this number is underreported because most STD cases have no symptoms so many people don’t know they are infected.
You would think a rise in STDs would be linked with a rise in sexual activity, but actually, Americans are reporting having less sex now than in past decades. Sex is down among teens and those aged 18 to 30, according to data from GSS data.
So even though sex is down, it seems to be getting riskier. And for those in active addiction, even more so. Drugs and alcohol impair judgment, increasing the likelihood of engaging in IV drug use, or risky sexual behaviors like unprotected sex. In addition, substance abuse weakens the immune system making users more likely to contract an STD after risky sexual activity.
United States STD Facts
- Deaths from Hepatitis C have overtaken those from HIV since 2007.
- Chlamydia and Gonorrhea reached all-time highs across the US in 2018.
- Syphilis cases among newborns who were infected through their mother during pregnancy increased 40% from 2017 to 2018.
Tennessee STD ranks*:
- 4th in Hepatitis B rate
- 6th in Hepatitis C rate
- 17th in Gonorrhea rate
- 17th in new HIV case rate
- 23rd in Chlamydia rate
- 23rd in overall HIV rate
- 24th in Syphilis rate
*2017 CDC data. Rate per 100,000 people. Ranking created when compared with all other US states and territories including D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam.
Where to Get Free or Low-Cost STD Testing in Tennessee:
Find your local chapter on their website, where you will be able to schedule an appointment and find lots of STD information. Some locations offer walk-in testing too. Test prices are on a sliding scale, meaning you receive free or low-cost testing based on your income.
This helpful company offers independent testing. Testing for all communicable STDs at once can get pricey but if you need to test for a specific STD due to a past partner, single tests are relatively affordable and start at $24. Search your zip code on their website to find your closest of 36 Tennessee partner clinics. Visit your nearest clinic, get tested, and results are accessible within 1-2 days.