SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S. are at an all-time high. That's according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC just came out with numbers collected from all of 2018 and for the fifth consecutive year, combined cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis shot up. More than two million infections were reported in just the last year alone.
The biggest question: why?
The numbers of STD, sometimes called STIs for infection, have skyrocketed in the U.S., according to the CDC's latest data.
In 2018 there were 2.4 million syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia infections. That's 100,000 more cases than in 2017.
Raising the question of why. The CDC lists an increase in people getting tested, diagnosed, and reported. Also, drug use, poverty, and the stigma - for some - of getting tested. as well as decreased condom use among gay and bisexual men and young people.
"About half of young people will get an STI and most of them will not know it because the most common symptom is actually no symptom at all," said Christine Johnston, assistant director of health promotion at Springfield College.
Springfield College is taking part in a national college health assessment study.
"Our last set of data suggested that our students are pretty good at using contraception and so they are protecting themselves against unplanned pregnancies, but contraception doesn't lend itself to STI protection," Johnston explained.
Johnston said the data also reveals there is work to be done regarding awareness.
"We do know that our students are engaged in sexual activity with zero, one, or two people on average throughout the course of a year and we just try to get the information out there that they are at risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection if they're having unprotected sex," Johnston noted.
That's one reason why Springfield College provides free protection to students.
Back to the study, the CDC also blames the rise in STDs on cuts to sex health programs at the state and local level.
They are now sounding the alarm that STDs can lead to infertility, gonorrhea, and congenital syphilis, which can cause infant death. In fact, newborn syphilis deaths shot up 22 percent from 2017 to 2018.
Doctors are emphasizing that chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis can all be cured by antibiotics,
CDC researchers are calling for greater awareness and testing, saying that not that long ago, gonorrhea rates were at historic lows and syphilis was close to elimination.