The CDC reports that sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates have continued to increase during the pandemic, despite the impact of COVID-19. Somewhat paradoxically, there was an initial decline of STD rates during the early months of the pandemic, however, this reflected the impact of COVID-19 on STD surveillance and prevention efforts. More specifically, this was attributed to reduced screening, limited screening resources, stay-at-home orders, increased telehealth visits, and loss of health insurance for many. In other words, the initial decrease of documented STDs in 2020 did not reflect the actual rates but rather an effect of COVID-19. 

std rates

Increased STD Rates 

Later research from 2020 pointed to and clarified the certainty of increased STD transmission rates during this time. For example, gonorrhea and syphilis rates increased by 10% and 7% from 2019 to 2020. Although chlamydia infection rates dropped by about 13%, this was likely due to underreporting and underdiagnosis of a commonly asymptomatic disease. 

As COVID-19 persists, the consequences of the STD epidemic beyond 2020 remain unclear. However, it is clear, beyond any doubt, that STD rates remain far too high. Therefore, the need for STD testing, surveillance and prevention measures are higher than ever before. It is imperative that communities use public health resources to encourage disease investigation, contact tracing, training, partnerships, and participation.