Planned Parenthood: Record Number of STDs Highlights the Need for Access to Sexual Health Care

NEW YORK, NY, Aug. 29, 2018 – This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data showing “steep and sustained increases in STDs” in the U.S. The CDC’s report shows that almost 2.3 million cases of syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea were diagnosed in the United States in 2017, surpassing the previous year’s record by more than 200,000 cases and marking the fourth consecutive year of increases in the rates of these STDs.

“These numbers make it clear that too many people aren’t getting the health care and education they need in order to keep themselves healthy,” said Dr. Gillian Dean, senior director of medical services at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “No matter who you are or where you live, you should have access to regular STD screening and treatment, as well as accurate, nonjudgmental education about STDs and STD prevention. We need policymakers to invest in making STD testing and treatment more accessible for everyone, rather than less. It’s critical that people everywhere have regular access to preventive care and community services, both before and after health crises emerge.”

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Planned Parenthood understands that access to safer sex — including tools, testing, and treatment — and education about STDs are the best ways to ensure that people of all ages stay healthy and safe. STD prevention is a core part of Planned Parenthood’s health care services and education efforts. Last year, Planned Parenthood health centers provided more than 4.4 million STD tests and treatment, including more than 700,000 HIV tests. Planned Parenthood also released a series of videos last year modeling how to communicate about STDs with partners.

“Even with rising rates of sexually transmitted infections, the Trump-Pence administration is doubling down on its agenda to make it more difficult for people to access preventive care at Planned Parenthood,” Dr. Dean said. “The administration is trying to quickly finalize the Title X gag rule that would dismantle the very program that has promoted access to affordable STI treatment and birth control, which could result in millions of people not getting the health care they need.”

The Trump administration’s proposed Title X gag rule would make it impossible for millions of patients to get birth control and preventive care at Planned Parenthood health centers — which serve 41 percent of all Title X patients. Preventing Planned Parenthood from serving patients would mean many people would have nowhere else to go for basic health care services — including STD testing and treatment.

“We also need to do better when it comes to sex education, which is widely supported in the U.S.,” Dr. Dean said. “Too many young people in this country aren’t getting any sex education at all, or they’re getting ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. We need funding and policies that support the full range of sex education topics that young people need to learn about in order to stay healthy — including STD prevention.”

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of miseducation and misunderstanding about STDs. All STDs, even HIV, are treatable, and many are curable, and early treatment can help prevent serious, lifelong health problems that can result from untreated STDs. The false idea that people with STDs are undesirable, however, has a profound emotional impact on people diagnosed with an STD, fueling stigma and discouraging testing and treatment.

That’s why Planned Parenthood works every day to provide nonjudgmental STD testing, preventive care, treatment, and education to help people take charge of their sexual health. As the nation’s largest provider of sex education and one of the nation’s leading HIV testing providers, Planned Parenthood is proud to provide sex education and health services that help people of all ages stay healthy and safe.

Planned Parenthood health center doors are open to everyone. We believe that all people deserve high-quality, affordable reproductive health care and accurate, nonjudgmental sexual health information, no matter who or where they are. To find a Planned Parenthood health center near you, or to find more information about STDs, visit plannedparenthood.org.

Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.