How common are STDs?

Estimating how many sexually transmitted disease or infection cases occur is not a simple or straight forward task. First, most STDs can be “silent”, causing no noticeable symptoms. These asymptomatic infections can be diagnosed only through testing.

Unfortunately, routine screening programs are not widespread, social stigma and lack of public awareness concerning STDs often inhibits frank discussion between health care providers and patients about STDs risk and the need for testing.

About 20 million new cases occur each year

  • 15- to 24-year-olds account for half of these cases
  • Genital Human Papilloma Virus (also called HPV), Trichomoniasis and Chlamydia are the most common STDs
  • 1 in 6 Americans ages 14 to 49 have Genital Herpes; most individuals have only minimal or no signs or symptoms from HSV-1 or HSV-2 infection.
  • The Centers for Disease Control estimate that more than one million people are living with HIV in the United States. Approximately 1 in 5 (21%) of those people living with HIV are unaware of their infection.
  • More than half of all people will have and STD at some point in their lifetime.
  • Less than half of adults ages 18-44 have ever been tested for an STD other than HIV/AIDS.
  • With more than 50 million adults in the U.S. with Genital Herpes and up to 1.6 million new infections each year, some estimates suggest that by 2025 up to 40% of all men and half of all women could be infected.
  • At least 15% of all American women who are infertile can attribute it to tubal damage caused by pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), the result of an untreated STD.

Teen STDs by the Numbers

The explosion of STDs among our children is a hidden epidemic.

Still not convinced? I’ll let the facts speak for themselves:

  • This year, 8 to 10 million teens will contract an STD
  • Nearly one in four sexually active teens is living with an STD at this moment
  • Nearly 48% of Black women between 14-19 have genital herpes1
  • Although teenagers make up just 10% of the population, they acquire 20 to 25% of all STDs.
  • Herpes (specifically herpes simplex virus type 2) has skyrocketed 500% in the past 20 years among white American teenagers
  • One in five children over the age of 12 tests positive for herpes type 2.
  • Nearly one out of ten teenage girls has chlamydia, and half of all new chlamydia cases are diagnosed in girls 15 to 19 years old.
  • STDs account for 87% of all cases reported of the top most frequently reported diseases in the United States in 1995.

Even more terrifying is that these numbers are only guesstimates. Because most STDs have no symptoms, experts can only estimate the scope of the epidemic. The actual figures, some say, are many times higher.

Now, do you agree, this is an epidemic?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are any of a number of various diseases (including chlamydia, gonorrhea, Human Papillomavirus, HIV, trichomoniasis, and syphilis) that are usually contracted through sexual intercourse or other intimate sexual contact. Some STDs have no visible symptoms and if left untreated, can have very painful long term consequences as well as immediate health problems.

What is the difference between a sexually transmitted disease (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

A sexually transmitted infection is an invasion of and multiplication in bodily tissue by a microorganism (for example, bacterium, virus, protozoan) that is usually (more than half the time) passed from one person to another during intimate bodily contact meant to give or derive sexual gratification.

A sexually transmitted disease, on the other hand, involves manifest damage to the body with or without symptoms secondary to an infection that is usually (more than half the time) passed from one person to another during intimate bodily contact meant to give or derive sexual gratification.

In the U.S. today, well over 110 million people are now infected by an STD. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported that now 85 percent of the most prevalent infectious diseases in the United States are sexually transmitted.

The rate of STDs in this country is 50 to 100 times higher than that of any other industrialized nation. One in four sexually active Americans (possibly more) will be affected by an STD at some time in his or her life.

In addition, about 20 million new STD cases occur in the United States each year. Almost half of those occur in someone between the ages of 15 and 24.

Long and Short-term STD Consequences

STDs can have very painful long-term consequences as well as immediate health problems. They can cause:

  • Birth Defects
  • Blindness
  • Bone Deformities
  • Brain Damage
  • Cancer
  • Death
  • Ectopic Pregnancy
  • Heart disease
  • Infertility
  • Liver Disease
  • Mental Retardation

Thirty years ago, people only worried about two STDs — syphilis and gonorrhea. Today, there are at least 25, and many of them have no symptoms and no cure.

To see a listing of the more common STDs, including health and medical information on each, view our STD Listing and Facts section

If you are at all questioning whether or not you may have contracted a STD, then you must see a medical professional immediately. The longer you leave an STD untreated the more life-threatening it becomes.

We offer low-cost STD testing; we would love to see you and answer any questions that you may have. To get in contact with one of our centers click here.

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