The STD Crisis: Who is to Blame?

Syphilis rates have seen the highest annual increase in more than 70 years, and the disruption of Covid has only exacerbated the problems caused by years of budget cuts to STD programs. Leandro Mena, director of CDC's STD Prevention Division, has stated that the chronic lack of funding for public health programs is largely to blame. In addition, opioid and methamphetamine use, which has increased significantly during the pandemic, is causing more HIV and hepatitis infections among people who share needles and the spread of other STDs. Furthermore, a lawsuit backed by former Trump administration officials could further worsen the STD crisis.

The lawsuit in Texas seeks to eliminate the Obamacare requirement that insurance cover services such as STD testing and drugs for HIV prevention. If enforced domestically, this ruling could deprive nearly 170 million Americans of insurance coverage for preventive care services. Lawmakers and Democratic advocates see this case as a potential cataclysm, warning that it could increase health insurance premiums, generate high out-of-pocket costs that deter people from seeking testing and treatment for STDs, and slow progress in treating chronic and infectious diseases. Moreover, healthcare workers and government officials fear that taboos around sex discourage people from talking to their primary care doctors about preventing and treating STDs.

Additionally, the decline in condom use, particularly among young people, is driving higher rates of infection. Public health officials warn that their scarce resources could be further limited and that outbreaks could proliferate if the lawsuit succeeds.

Jerald Hija
Jerald Hija

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