Health Department urges community to get STD screening

El Paso News

The sharpest increase of syphilis cases was among newborns

FILE – This 1975 microscope image made available by the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. After an unprecedented push to test and track COVID-19, public health workers are grappling with a worrisome side effect: a collapse in screening for sexually-transmitted diseases that have been on the rise for years. Testing for diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea plummeted in many parts of the U.S. in 2020 as COVID-19 sapped away resources and staff. (Dr. E. Arum, Dr. N. Jacobs/CDC via AP)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — From 2015 to 2019, the number of cases of congenital syphilis among newborns nearly quadrupled, according to new data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 2019 STD Surveillance Report said that annual cases of STDs in the United States continued to climb in 2019, reaching an all-time high for the sixth consecutive year.

Because of these stats, the El Paso Department of Public Health is urging the community to get screened for sexually transmitted diseases, particularly pregnant women.

Among other findings, the 2019 STD Surveillance Report says:

  • 2.5 million reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis – the three most commonly reported STDs in 2019.
  • A nearly 30% increase in these reportable STDs between 2015 and 2019.

While El Paso saw a decrease in STD cases in 2020, officials believe it may be due to hesitancy and delay in seeking timely medical care during the pandemic. In the first four months of 2021, officials reported a considerable increase in STD cases when compared to 2019, with an even greater increase in syphilis cases among pregnant women.

DPH is urging pregnant women to seek timely prenatal care to detect and treat STDs and prevent transmitting the disease and any harmful effects to their newborn baby.

Under the Texas Health Code, medical providers are required to test pregnant patients for STDs during their first and third pregnancy trimesters as well as during delivery and report all positive cases to DPH.

STDs can have serious health consequences. People with these infections do not always experience disease symptoms, but, if left untreated, some can increase the risk of HIV infection, or can cause chronic pelvic pain, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, severe pregnancy, newborn complication and even infant death.

Individuals in need of STD screenings or prenatal care may contact the DPH CommUnity Care Center for an appointment at (915) 212-0200 and select Option 5 or visit EPHealth.com under the Services Tab CommUnity Care Center or call 2-1-1 for a referral to services.

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