STD Stats At-A-Glance
- There were more than 2 million diagnosed cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
- There were 200,000 more cases of these STDs than the previous record set in 2016.
- Diagnoses of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis all increased sharply for the fourth year in a row.
- Syphilis cases nearly doubled.
- Gonorrhea cases increased by 67%.
- Chlamydia remained at record highs.
- Congenital syphilis cases more than doubled.
Treat Me Right is a campaign for healthcare providers and their patients that underscores the value of fostering a trusting patient-provider relationship and empowering patients to know what they can do to stay healthy.
Patients: You Matter. Your Health Matters.
Cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis are at an all-time high. Left untreated, STDs can cause:
- Increased risk of giving or getting HIV
- Long-term pelvic and/or abdominal pain
- Inability to get pregnant or pregnancy complications
Testing is the only way to know if you have an STD.
STD Prevention Partners: You can tailor the content on this page for patients and other individuals you would like to reach in your community.
With the STD Awareness Month campaign, Treat Me Right, we’re encouraging you to ask your healthcare provider what you can do – and how you can work together – to ensure you stay healthy.
Look for A Doctor Who:
- Treats you with respect
- Listens to your opinions and concerns
- Encourages you to ask questions
- Explains things in ways you understand
- Recommends preventive services, like screening tests and shots
- Treats many health problems including STDs
- Refers you to a specialist when you need more help with a specific health issue
Some providers may not discuss sex or STD testing with you. Bring it upExternal if they don’t. There’s more to an office visit than just lab tests and prescriptions. Arm yourself with the facts and know what you should expect.
Talk With Your Healthcare Provider About Sexual Health
When you visit your healthcare provider, you should discuss sex as it relates to your health. Your provider calls this “taking a sexual history” and it helps them to understand what STD tests you may need.
Here are a few questions you should expect and be prepared to answer honestly:
- Have you been sexually active in the last year?
- Do you have sex with men, women, or both?
- In the past 12 months, how many sexual partners have you had?
- Do you have anal, oral, or vaginal sex?
- What are you doing to protect yourself from STDs?
You can find additional questions your healthcare provider may ask in this guideExternal.
You can ask them questions, too! For example, you may want to know how to protect yourself from getting an STD, which STD tests you will be getting, or how often to get tested. Make the most of your visit by thinking through your questions ahead of time.
Vaccines are available for hepatitis B and HPV. Ask your doctor whether these are right for you.
Get Tested, Get Treated
Treat Me Right also includes getting all of the STD tests that you need.
Testing positive for an STD is not the end. Many STDs are curable and all are treatable.
If either you or your partner has an STD that can be cured, both of you need to start treatment immediately to avoid getting re-infected. Getting treated right away can also help avoid health problems down the road.
A forgotten prescription from your doctor won’t help – make sure to get it filled and take your medication as prescribed. That also means you shouldn’t share your prescription with your partner.
- Have you had vaginal, anal, or oral sex without a condom?
- Have you ever had an STD, including HIV?
- Have any of your partners had an STD?
- Have you or any of your partners ever injected drugs?
- Have you or any of your partners exchanged money or drugs for sex?
- Is it possible that any of your sex partners in the past 12 months had sex with someone else while they were still in a sexual relationship with you?
For those STDs that cannot be cured, medicine can help. Talk with your provider to learn more about what is right for you.
In some situations, your provider can give you medicine or a prescription for your partner – even without seeing them first. This is called expedited partner therapy (EPT). Ask your provider about this option.
Get retested! It’s common to get some STDs more than once, especially chlamydia and gonorrhea. You should be retested in 3 months even if you and your partner took medicine.
Providers: What you do matters.
Healthcare providers, you are the protectors of health across the nation. Right now, millions are threatened by STDs as rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis continue to climb. You can help put a stop to these dangerous trends.
STD Prevention Partners: You can tailor the content on this page for healthcare providers you would like to reach in your community.
Treat Me Right focuses on the relationship between provider and patient. The campaign encourages patients to take control of their health by asking you for what they need. What does that mean for providers?
We’re arming you with the tools you need to treat your patients right—from detecting an infection and selecting the correct treatment regimen to engaging with your patients in a way that makes them feel heard and respected.
Patients come in all sizes, shapes, sexual orientations, and cultural backgrounds. Delivering care that is aware of—and not biased by—these differences is what takes your care from good to great. Cultural competency trainings are availableExternal.
Take A Sexual History
Treating your patients right starts with taking a thorough sexual historyCdc-pdfExternal. It is an important part of a patient’s overall medical history and allows you to make informed clinical decisions.
These conversations also help to normalize and destigmatize discussions around sex. One way to discreetly introduce the topic of sexual health is by incorporating it into your patient questionnaires prior to the visit.
A list of essential sexual health questionsCdc-pdfExternal is available. At minimum you should assess the sex of your patient’s sex partner(s), your patient’s number of current sex partners, and their anatomic sites of exposure based on the type of sexual activity they are engaging in.
Test and Treat
- Help foster trust with your patient before their visit even starts by creating a welcoming and inclusive clinic or office environment. For example, you can use these tips to make your office teen-friendlyCdc-pdfExternal.
- Make sure your patients are comfortable and in a private space, especially before asking sensitive questions; this includes assuring patients that their confidentiality is being protected by everyone in your office.
- Help normalize sexual health questions and STD/HIV testing recommendations by letting your patients know that you ask these questions and offer these services “to all my patients, as sexual health is a normal part of a person’s overall health and well-being.”
- Avoid making assumptions about your patients; asking is the only way to know for sure. Standardize sexual orientation/gender identity (SOGI) questions, and use open-ended questions when taking a sexual history.
- If your patient is hesitant to answer a question, try rephrasing it or briefly explain why you are asking it.
- Ensure that you and your patient share an understanding of the terms being used to avoid confusion.
Once a patient has been tested, make sure they know how they will get their test results.
In addition, treat your patients right by following CDC’s STD Treatment Guidelines when they are diagnosed with an STD.
Also remember that the only recommended treatment for syphilis is injectable long-acting benzathine penicillin G.
In particular, CDC recommends dual therapy to treat gonorrhea—a single dose of 250mg of intramuscular ceftriaxone AND 1g of oral azithromycin—as drug-resistant gonorrhea is of increasing concern.
Verify that your patient’s partners are tested and treated, too. Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT) may be an option in cases where a patient’s partner is unwilling or unable to access care.
EPT is the clinical practice of treating the sex partners of patients diagnosed with chlamydia or gonorrhea by providing prescriptions or medications to the patient to take to their partner who is unable to seek timely treatment.
Reinfection is common for some STDs. Encourage your patients to return for follow-up testing in three months.
Treating your patient right is more than simply testing and treating them. You should also encourage risk reduction by providing prevention counseling.
Prevention counseling should be offered to all sexually active adolescents and to adults at increased risk for STDs (e.g., patients who have received an STD diagnosis, had an STD in the past year, or have multiple sexual partners).
Did you know?
Counseling is typically included in the preventive medicine CPT codesCdc-pdfExternal. Medicare covers up to two individual 20-30 minute, face-to-face, high-intensity behavioral counseling sessions per year for sexually active adults at increased risk for STDs.