(WTAJ)– According to the Center Disease for Control and Prevention (CDC) the number of STDs reported in 2020 hit a surge in the final months of the year.

Originally, there was a decrease during the early months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but in the final months, the reported cases of gonorrhea, syphilis, and congenital syphilis passed 2019 cases. Meanwhile Chlamydia saw a decline but the CDC said this was likely due to decreased STD screening and underdiagnosis during the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic put enormous pressure on an already strained public health infrastructure,” said M.D., M.P.H., Director of CDC’s National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention Jonathan Mermin said. “There were moments in 2020 when it felt like the world was standing still, but STDs weren’t. The unrelenting momentum of the STD epidemic continued even as STD prevention services were disrupted.”

Findings from the 2020 STD Surveillance Report found that at the end of 2020:

  • Reported cases of gonorrhea and primary & secondary (P&S) syphilis were up 10% and 7%, respectively, compared to 2019.
  • Syphilis among newborns (i.e., congenital syphilis) also increased, with reported cases up nearly 15% from 2019, and 235% from 2016Early data indicate primary and secondary syphilis and congenital syphilis cases continued to increase in 2021 as well.
  • Reported cases of chlamydia declined 13% from 2019.

In 2019, a total of 2.5 million cases of STDs were reported, in 2020 that number dropped to 2.4 million, according to a press release.

Several factors that the CDC notes that caused the decline of reported STD cases:

  • Reduced frequency of in-person healthcare services as routine visits decreased, resulting in less-frequent STD screening;
  • Diversion of public health staff from STD work to respond to the COVID-19pdf icon pandemic;
  • STD test and laboratory supply shortages;
  • Lapses in health insurance coverage due to unemployment; and
  • Telemedicine practices that led to some infections not being captured in national data.

 M.D., M.P.H., Director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention Leandro Mena pointed out how the COVID-19 pandemic increased an awareness about STDs and how some social and economic factors play a role.

“The COVID-19 pandemic increased awareness of a reality we’ve long known about STDs.  Social and economic factors – such as poverty and health insurance status – create barriers, increase health risks, and often result in worse health outcomes for some people,” Mena said. “If we are to make lasting progress against STDs in this country, we have to understand the systems that create inequities and work with partners to change them. No one can be left behind.”

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The CDC said that there is still a lot of work that must be done in expanding the prevention of STDs.