Sep 29

Rise of STDs Among Teens/Younger Adults Has Become A Serious Social Problem

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This topic is difficult for many people to handle as a discussion; awkward for some, tricky for others, this subject is no less uncomfortable for some coaches. The question rises: ‘what education should we provide to our athletes – if any? What is our responsibility – if any – to assure the safety and physical and mental well-being of our athletes? Is it even our responsibility to discuss such topics with them? I think that it is. Evidently, teens and young adults are not getting the education they need to protect themselves; and if we as coaches have an opportunity to keep safe the kids under our mentorship, we should take it. If this subject is difficult for you as a coach, invite a guest speaker or health nurse to provide education or host a seminar on this matter at the beginning of each season. Invite parents to attend as well.

Next to the opiate crisis, there is an alarming increase of STDs in the USA and Canada, and in the fight against sexually transmitted diseases, U.S. health officials appear to be losing ground. Many of the country’s systems for preventing STDs have eroded. According to Dr. Jonathan Mermin, CDC director, we must mobilize, rebuild, and expand services. Sexual risk behaviors place teens at a high chance for HIV infection, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and unintended pregnancy.

Alarming facts:

  • Rates of gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia infections – STDs  federal health officials actively track – rose in 2015, according to a new report released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In two of the three cases, the increases were in the double digits. Syphilis cases increased by 19 percent, gonorrhea by nearly 13 percent, and chlamydia by nearly 6 percent, compared to 2014.
  • The CDC estimates that at any one time there are 110 million cases of STDs in the US when herpes and human papillomavirus infections, which are not tracked by the agency, are factored in. Some people have more than one of these infections at once.
  • Previous downward trends in rates have been reversed in recent years, the report shows. For instance, in 2009, the gonorrhea rate hit a historic low, with only 98 cases per 100,000 people. That rate was up to nearly 124 cases per 100,000 people in 2015 – 26 percent increase. Meanwhile, syphilis rates in 2000 and 2001 were at the lowest rate since reporting on these diseases began in 1941 – 2.1 cases per 100,000 people. The number has climbed nearly every year since and is now at 7.5 cases per 100,000 people, the CDC reported.
  • More than two-thirds of the 1.5 million of the newly reported cases of chlamydia in 2015 were found in young people aged 15 to 24. The same age group accounted for half of the new diagnoses of gonorrhea, the report said.
  • Gay and bisexual men accounted for the majority of new cases of syphilis, the report said, noting 82 percent of the cases in men were in gay and bisexual men.
  • All three infections can be cured with antibiotics – although gonorrhea is rapidly acquiring resistance to these key drugs.
  • Left untreated, though, these infections can cause a range of long-term problems, including infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and an increased risk of contracting HIV.

Although providing sex education is not an intrinsic part of being a coach – and it is certainly up to the discretion of each individual coach – being a coach means you are also an educator, and in light of a desperate need for intervention, perhaps coaches should consider very seriously this opportunity to lend a hand.


Helen Branswell, STAT  October 20, 2016.

This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on Oct. 19, 2016. Find the original story here.


Gonorrhea may become resistant to all antibiotics sooner than anticipated


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