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    Important News For Anyone Who Plans To Have Sex, Ever

    Please don't have sex without reading this.

    It's official: Reported STDs have reached an all-time high, according to a new report released Wednesday by the CDC.

    Mukhina1 / Getty Images

    The latest Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report looked at the number of cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis reported in the US in 2015. However, some STDs — like HPV and herpes — are not nationally reported, so those numbers aren't included here.

    And since this report only looks at diagnosed cases, it's safe to say that the actual number of infections is much higher.

    More than 1.5 million cases of chlamydia were reported in 2015. That's a lot of chlamydia.

    This super-common infection increased by 5.9% from 2014. And nearly two-thirds of all cases were in young people aged 15–24.

    FYI: Most people with chlamydia have no idea they have it, because it often pops up without symptoms. And chlamydia can be transmitted through oral, vaginal, and anal sex. So make sure you're getting tested regularly if you're having any type of sex. Here's how to know how often you need to be getting tested.

    There were nearly 400,000 cases of gonorrhea reported in 2015.

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    This went up 12.8% since 2014, and the majority of new cases were reported by men who have sex with men. About half of all gonorrhea cases were in young people aged 15–24.

    Again, gonorrhea often comes with no symptoms at all, especially in women. It can be transmitted during oral, anal, or vaginal sex — causing infections in the genitals, throat, or rectum. So make sure you're getting tested if you're at risk, even if you feel and look totally fine.

    Rates of syphilis increased the most from 2014. Nearly 24,000 cases were reported, which was up by 19%.

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    These included cases of primary and secondary syphilis, which are the first two stages of the infection. These are the stages when most people notice symptoms, like a single sore, multiple sores, or rashes in your mouth, vagina, or anus. You can also get a rash on the bottoms of your hands and feet.

    Syphilis is spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex when someone has a sore, which can be on the genitals, rectum, anus, mouth, or lips.

    Men who have sex with men made up most of the new syphilis cases. The rate of syphilis in women increased by 27% since 2014, and the rate of congenital syphilis (passing it to a baby through childbirth) increased by 6%.

    The good news is that these infections are totally curable. Just get tested so you can get your antibiotics and get on with your life.


    Once you know you have one of these infections, you can cure it with a prescription. Easy peasy.

    But if left untreated, STDs can lead to complications and fertility issues, as well as an increased likelihood of HIV infection. In rare cases, untreated syphilis can lead to paralysis, numbness, blindness, and dementia.

    It's possible that STD rates are up because STD screening is up, which would be a good thing. But it's also a sign that we need to focus more heavily on prevention.

    It's true that some of this increase can be attributed to more people getting tested — and getting tested in more ~places~. For instance, more clinics are performing oral and rectal tests in addition to vaginal, urethral, and urine tests.

    "However, given the large increases we saw in the last few years, particularly among men, it is likely that these increases in cases are not just due to increases in testing," CDC spokesperson Nora Spencer-Loveall told BuzzFeed Health via email.

    And while increased screening is important, so is prevention. Unfortunately, significant budget cuts to state and local STD programs may be a huge barrier to ramping up prevention efforts.

    Bottom line: Don't freak out. Just use protection and get tested!

    Use a condom or dental dam every time you hook up, and find out more about how to get tested regularly here. And if you have a penis, here's a more specific guide to getting tested.


    According to the report, the rate of syphilis in women increased by 27% since 2014. A previous version of this post stated that it decreased by 27%.

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