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A Rise in STD Cases and an Emerging Resistance to Antibiotics

As you may have heard, recent data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis were diagnosed in the United States in 2017. This number surpasses the previous record—set in 2016—by more than 200,000 cases and marks the fourth consecutive year of significant increases in these sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Not only are STD diagnoses trending sharply upward, but per the CDC press release titled New CDC analysis shows steep and sustained increases in STDs in recent years, “gonorrhea has become resistant to nearly every class of antibiotics used to treat it, except to ceftriaxone.” CDC added that “reports of antibiotic resistant gonorrhea abroad have only reinforced concerns [that] a strain of gonorrhea may someday surface that does not respond to ceftriaxone.”

Please note that our claims data suggests that this worrisome national trend is not (yet) reflected in our local member population; however, we are concerned that the Philadelphia region* will not remain immune to this national rise in STDs. We ask that offices remain vigilant and follow appropriate best practices with patients. Many cases of STDs continue to go undiagnosed and untreated, and untreated STDs can lead to stillbirths, ectopic pregnancies, infertility, an increased risk of HIV, and a host of other negative health outcomes.

What your office can do

The CDC strongly encourages health care providers to screen for STDs, to provide timely and appropriate treatment, educate patients about the risk factors associated with STDs and stress the benefits of preventive measures (such as condoms).

Additionally, please be aware that providers are responsible for reporting STDs to the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) via the PA-NEDSS website. If you are unsure how to report new cases of STDs and related treatment, PA DOH has an instructional video that you can watch.

Questions? Please call our Provider Services Helpline at 1-888-991-9023 (M–F, 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.).

* Based on an assessment of claims data from 2014 through 2Q 2018, cases of gonorrhea and syphilis increased significantly from 2016 to 2017, but have since remained flat. Cases of chlamydia have not changed significantly over this time period.