CondomsWhen Usher crooned “Let it burn,” I don’t think he meant like this.  Just in time for Valentine’s Day a new report was released showing that Americans are on fire, but not in a good way.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued two new studies of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) today detailing what the lead author Catherine Lindsey Satterwhite calls “an ongoing, severe, STI epidemic.”

The study, which gives new infection data on the eight most common STIs — chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B, HIV, and trichomoniasis, is startling to say the least.  According to the findings in 2008 there were 20 million new incidents of infection in the United States, and a of 110 million, according to CDC estimates, as a result, the United States incurred estimated direct medical costs of nearly $16 billion!

Matthew Golden, the director of Public Health Seattle and King County HIV/STD Program and a professor of medicine at the University of Washington Center for AIDS and STD stated:

“The good news is that rates for most viral and bacterial infections, including HIV, have stabilized or even dropped. The “epidemic” is driven almost entirely by two bugs: HPV, and Chlamydia. Chlamydia, a bacterial infection, is easily curable if it’s diagnosed. And there’s a very effective vaccine for the most dangerous forms of HPV that can trigger cervical, oral, anal, and penile cancers, and cause genital warts. But we have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by not pursuing effective strategies, such as school-based universal access to the HPV vaccine.”

The study also finds that STI prevention and awareness programs are critical in preventing the spread of STIs in addition to safe sex practices.  So before you jump in the sack this Valentine’s Day to work off all that chocolate and loving, let this be a reminder to you to wrap it up and play safe!

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