Americans were infected with more than 2 million new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told CNN Tuesday.
The CDC said that the cases were the highest number of these sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) ever reported in the U.S.
The agency’s annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report found that more than 1.6 million of the new cases last year stemmed from chlamydia.
The report noted that another 470,000 cases were from gonorrhea, and about 28,000 more came from primary and secondary syphilis.
Some Twitter users on Wednesday linked the CDC’s finding to issues including America’s health care and government funding.
Physicians are required by law to report chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis cases to the CDC, while other STDs are not tracked in a similar fashion.
The CDC estimates that there are more than 20 million new cases of STDS in the U.S. annually including herpes, HIV and other untracked STDs.
The agency added that at least half of those cases occur in young people ages 15 to 24-years-old.
The executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors on Tuesday expressed alarm at the CDC’s findings.
“STDs are out of control with enormous health implications for Americans,” said David Harvey, whose coalition represents local, state and territorial health departments who focus on preventing STDs.
“If not treated, gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis can have serious consequences, such as infertility, neurological issues, and an increased risk for HIV.”
Harvey added that “several factors are fueling the STD epidemic,” including funding deficits and embarrassment about such illnesses.
“Unfortunately, STDs carry enormous stigma in this country, and it’s hard for people to come forward for treatment,” he said.
“Funding cutbacks for prevention, education and healthcare programs, an on-going debate about sex education for young people, with cutbacks in that arena, particularly from this administration, and a rise in social media dating apps have all contributed to the rise.”