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Reuters: STDs take 'staggering toll'

Reuters: STDs take 'staggering toll'

“Despite everything we know about how to prevent and treat STDs,” says one director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “they remain one of the more critical challenges in the United States today.” As Julie Steenhuysen reports for Reuters, the rate of syphilis may have dropped, but sexually-transmitted disease still takes a “staggering toll.”

Sex offenses like rape often involve testing for STDs, and STDs primarily affect young people, a group that accounts for almost half of new infections, according to the report.

It’s unclear exactly what the “staggering toll” is that STDs have on the U.S. population – unless you’re talking about the health problems that diseases like gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis can have on the infected patient if left untreated.

Untreated syphilis, for instance, can cause serious internal damage to the human body, including the brain and heart.

Perhaps most disheartening is the widening disparity between whites and minorities who become infected with STDs; blacks and Hispanics tend to contract these STDs more so than whites.

The same CDC director says, “It’s not because someone is black or Hispanic or white that results in the differences that we see in STDs. It’s really what these represent in terms of differences in health care coverage, employment status, in ability to access preventive services or curative services.”

Source: Reuters, “Syphilis rates drop, but STDs still big problem,” by Julie Steenhuysen, 11/17/11

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