Sexually Transmitted Diseases 

STDs: Overview  | Chlamydia | Gonorrhea | Herpes | Human Papillomavirus (HPV) | Syphilis | Trichomoniasis

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) affect men and women of all backgrounds and economic levels. CDC estimates that 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.

Despite the fact that STDs are extremely widespread and add an estimated $14.7 billion to the nation's healthcare costs each year 2, most people in the United States remain unaware of the risk and consequences of all but the most prominent STD—HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Common STDs and the Organisms That Cause Them

Many people are aware of the most prominent STD—HIV. However, many other STDs affect millions of men and women each year. Many of these STDs initially cause no symptoms, especially in women. When symptoms develop, they may be confused with those of other diseases that are not transmitted through sexual contact. STDs can still be transmitted from person to person even if they do not show symptoms. Furthermore, health problems caused by STDs tend to be more severe for women than for men.

Variations in risk

STDs affect men and women of all backgrounds and economic levels. However, STDs disproportionately affect women, infants of infected mothers, adolescents and young adults, and communities of color.

Women, especially young and minority women, are hit hardest by chlamydia. The rate of reported chlamydia per 100,000 black females was almost eight times that of white females and almost three times that of Hispanic females. The rate among American Indian/Alaska Native females was the second highest .

Although 15- to 24-year-olds represent only one-fourth of the sexually active population, they account for nearly half of all new STDs each year 1.

CDC's 2007 STD surveillance report found persistent racial disparities in STD rates. Blacks represent only 12 percent of the total U.S. population but made up about 70 percent of gonorrhea cases and almost half of all chlamydia and syphilis cases in 2007. Disparities among Hispanics also exist for chlamydia. While Hispanics account for 15 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 19 percent of all reported chlamydia cases.

In 2007, the rate of chlamydia among blacks was more than eight times higher than the rate among whites. In addition, rates among American Indians/Alaska Natives and Hispanics were approximately five times and three times higher than whites, respectively. In 2007, the syphilis rate among blacks was seven times higher than that of whites. The gonorrhea rate among blacks was 19 times greater than that of whites in 2007, and there were declines in gonorrhea rates among all racial and ethnic groups, except blacks, among whom the gonorrhea rate increased by 1.8 percent between 2006 and 2007. In 2007, American Indians/Alaska Natives had the second-highest gonorrhea rate, followed by Hispanics, whites, and Asians/Pacific Islanders .

What Are Some Health Risks of STD Infection?

STDs can result in irreparable lifetime damage, including blindness, bone deformities, mental retardation, and death for infants infected by their mothers during gestation or birth.
In women, STDs can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility, potentially fatal ectopic pregnancies, and cancer of the reproductive tract. 

STD Partner Notification: What About Your Partner Brochure
STD Partner Notification: What If I’ve Been Exposed to an STD? Brochure
State Profile: STDs, HIV/AIDs and Teen Pregnancy Prevention Policies

Sexually Transmitted Diseases4815 W. Markham Street, Slot 33
Little Rock, AR 72205