The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week released its 2015 STD Surveillance Report, which examines reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis across the 50 states. According to the CDC, there was an increase in all three diseases nationally in 2015. In Connecticut, there were 13,126 cases of chlamydia, 2,088 cases of gonorrhea and 92 cases of primary and secondary syphilis. Compared to 2014, this was a decrease in the number of cases of chlamydia (13,590 cases) and gonorrhea (2,390 cases), but an increase in new cases of infectious syphilis (84 cases) in Connecticut. While the CDC report ranks Connecticut in the top 10 of states with the lowest rates of these diseases, DPH Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino warned that STDs remain a significant health challenge in Connecticut.

"With approximately 20 million new sexually transmitted infections (including HIV) occurring every year nationally, half among our younger population, it is imperative to continue our efforts to increase STD screening and to identify and focus on at-risk populations," said Commissioner Pino. "In addition to the health impacts on those infected with these preventable diseases, STDs inflict significant health care costs on individuals and the community at large. Last year alone, STDs nationally accounted for $16 billion in health care costs."

While Connecticut’s cases of STDs are lower than most other states, it is important to recognize that these diseases impact certain populations disproportionately. Nationally and in Connecticut, the majority of chlamydia and gonorrhea cases occur among women and men less than 25 years old. For syphilis, the main group affected are men who have sex with men.

"It is important for people to know their risk and to get themselves tested," said Dr. Lynn Sosa, Coordinator of the Sexually Transmitted Diseases Program at DPH. "All three of these diseases can be asymptomatic but still be transmitted to others and cause long term health complications. Fortunately, these are all infections that can be treated when caught early."

People are encouraged to take steps to protect themselves from contracting these diseases. If you are sexually active, the best way to protect yourself is by using condoms, either male or female condoms, correctly and consistently every time. Another way to protect yourself is for you and your partner to get tested at the beginning of a new relationship. It is recommended that all sexually active women under 25 be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea every year, even if there are no symptoms. Whether you are a man or a woman, if you have new or multiple sex partners, you should also be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea. If you are a man who has sex with other men, you should be tested for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV at least annually, regardless of symptoms.

Click here to view the CDC’s press release and full 2015 Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report.