STD rates on the rise among young adults

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A new report from the CDC says STDs are on the rise across the country.

Now, health experts are calling for increased education for those most likely to be infected.

According to the report, Gonorrhea cases increased 67 percent (555,608 diagnoses), Syphilis diagnoses increased 76 percent (30,664 cases), and there were more than 1.7 million diagnoses of Chlamydia, which is the most common STD. Experts say that young people ages 15-24 are responsible for more than half of all new STD cases.

“The vast majority of individuals who have a sexually transmitted infection, they have no idea that they’re even carrying,” University of Indianapolis director of public health Heidi Hancher-Rauch said.

Rauch says part of the problem is that funding for STD prevention and education has been cut across the country. Doctors are also screening for STDs less often, in part, because young patients aren’t aware they should be asking to be tested.

“If we’re not teaching people how to keep themselves safe from sexually transmitted infections early, then we start to see these surges and increases in those rates,” Rauch said.

STD rates have also surged in Indiana. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, Chlamydia diagnoses are up 11 percent, while Gonorrhea diagnoses are up 25 percent. To help increase awareness and education on campus, Rauch says the public health department sends students out to have tough conversations with their peers about safety.

“So lunch time, dinner time, out in the student center and they’ll be talking to people about sexually transmitted infections and asking them some questions and doing some education,” she said.

Rauch believes if more funding for STD prevention and education is handed down, the STD infection rate will also go down.

“If we’re not in the schools talking about healthy sexuality that’s a big problem,” she said.