The days of Studio 54 may be over but STDs are still thriving: chlamydia and syphilis are on the rise, especially among young women and minorities, according to data released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control.
The New York-metro area saw chlamydia cases spike from 52,266 in 2004 to 80,306 in 2008, especially among women ages 15-24. Syphilis, nearly eradicated a decade ago, rose from 4,918 cases in 2004 to 6,097 in 2008, hitting young men who have sex with men. Cases among women rose 36 percent.
Sexual behavior has changed among young people, said Dr. Daniel Baxter, of Manhattan’s William F. Ryan Community Health Network: “Things we have on TV now, we didn’t have back in Ohio in the 1950s when I was growing up.”
Preventing STDs through oral sex gets short shrift, Baxter said. Syphilis has risen as more young men engage in unprotected sex now that “HIV is no longer a death sentence.”
Nearly half of city high schoolers report having sex, according to the city health department. But the
city doesn’t require sex education, noted Erica Sackin, of Planned Parenthood. “How are they supposed to make healthy decisions?”
Officials said chlamydia is increasing because of expanded testing. The numbers are still high, Baxter said. “It’s a problem without any question.”