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Sexually Transmitted Diseases on the rise

Sexually Transmitted Diseases on the rise

Sexually Transmitted Diseases on the rise

by Stacey Dyce

Stop STD's - Black Health Week

April is National Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Month, and we have another disturbing trend going on across the United States.  In October of 2016, the CDC Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data showing that the rates of chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea (3 of the top 4 reported STI/Ds) are higher than they have ever been, estimating that approximately 20 million new sexually transmitted infections (STIs) occur every year. Gonorrhea rates are at an all-time high with Maryland seeing a 40% increase in gonorrhea cases. New cases of syphilis have been back on the rise since 2014, and Maryland has the 2nd highest lifetime HIV risk of all U.S. states, 1 in 49 people in the State of Maryland are at risk for HIV. We are second to our more affluent neighbor Washington, DC where 1 in 13 are at risk, despite the 19% decline in HIV rates Nationally.

But as we know, a problem for all Americans is a downright disaster for African Americans. Chlamydia amongst African Americans is 5-7 times the rate of white women and men. According to the CDC in 2014, 55.4% of reported gonorrhea cases with known race/ethnicity occurred among blacks, and while showing a slight decrease, 38.1% of reported primary and secondary syphilis rates occurred among African Americans in 2014.  In addition, while we compromise 12% of the US population, black folks account for 45% of new HIV diagnoses. This number jumps to 75.5% of new and existing cases of HIV if you live here in Maryland!

While I am not one to dwell on the causation of a thing, we know this:

Health disparitiesvrefer to differences in the health status of different groups of people. Some groups of people have higher rates of certain diseases, and more deaths and suffering from them, compared to others. These groups may be based on gender, age, race or ethnicity, education, income, social class, disability, geographic location, or sexual orientation.  We also know that African Americans have experienced great discrimination, limited or no access, and great disadvantages at and in the intersections of all of the characterizations listed since we were forced onto these shores. 

Some of these characteristics we are victimized by, but others we perpetuate, but we can do better.

  • Get tested and bring a friend or partner, make it something you do regularly. 
  • Talk about it, stigma is a huge issue in our communities that keeps folks from getting tested and seeking treatment. The truth is we are all at risk. 
  • Use condoms! We know people are tired of hearing this, but using condoms consistently and correctly is 98-99% effective in preventing most STI/Ds. There are so many different kinds of condoms out there, find a type you like and use it! 
  • Know where to go. Every local health department in every State can provide you services or referrals.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2014. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2015

CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2015. HIV Surveillance Report 2016;27.

Maryland Annual HIV Epidemiological Profile 2015. Center for HIV Surveillance, Epidemiology and Evaluation, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Baltimore, MD. 2016.

Black Health Week - - Health Awareness for African Americans #BlackHealthWeek

Stacey Dyce, Dir. of Public Health - Greater Baltimore Urban League
Facebook Profile
Greater Baltimore Leadership Association - GBUL Young Professionals

The following non-profit organizations offer STD prevention programs:

STAR (Sisters Together And Reaching)

Light Health and Wellness

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