STDs on the rise in Miami area

August 1, 2014 by Monica Disare, The Miami Herald

Rates of both chlamydia and syphilis in Miami-Dade have nearly doubled since 2006, according to new statistics from the Florida Department of Health.

The rise in sexually transmitted diseases is an unsettling and largely unnoticed trend, said Alex Moreno, the clinical program manager for the adolescent medicine division at the University of Miami.

"It's all on our back burner," Moreno said "That's the scary thing."

There were 400 cases of chlamydia per 100,000 residents in 2013. In 2006, there were 200. Syphilis has similarly increased, jumping from 8.4 cases per 100,000 to over 16 in the same seven years, according to the health department numbers.

Chlamydia can cause fertility problems if left untreated. Syphilis causes sores and rashes and may lead to paralysis and, eventually, if untreated, even death.

Already, the Miami metropolitan statistical area had the highest rate of diagnosed HIV infections in the country in 2011, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control.

Miami-Dade county has a slightly lower rate of chlamydia than the state as a whole, but a higher rate of syphilis. Florida-wide, the rate of chlamydia is 419 per 100,000 residents in 2013 and the rate of syphilis is 7.9 per 100,000 residents.

Younger people in Miami-Dade were generally more likely to have STDs, the numbers indicated. Since 2009, STDs in the 25-to-34 age range have increased by 5 percentage points.

And even though STDs for people under 25 have decreased by 8 percentage points, that same age group is significantly more likely than any other age group to have an STD, accounting for 56 percent of all cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in Miami-Dade in 2013, according to the statistics.

Chlamydia in particular is pushing the numbers up - 70 percent of all reported cases of chlamydia are among adults aged 15-24, according to the CDC.

The increase in syphilis nationally is driven by men, particularly gay and bisexual men, according to the CDC.

The rising number of infections has led to speculation about cause, with possibilities ranging from a lack of understanding about the diseases to an increasingly promiscuous culture.

People often neglect to use condoms during oral sex, said Isa Chinea, operations manager in the STD prevention program at the health department. This leads to a dangerous game of chance, she said. Both chlamydia and can be spread by unprotected vaginal, anal and oral sex.

Additionally, testing is a hard sell when there are no symptoms, as is often the case with , dubbed, "the silent disease," added Chinea.

For adults, there is usually a stigma associated with STD testing, but with the younger generation a lack of education is more likely to be the problem, said UM's Moreno.

Teenagers can be tested for STDs in Florida without notifying parents, but they may not know that's allowed.

"As a norm, kids really don't know the law and they don't know how to access the services," Moreno said, "but they're not afraid to get tested once they know."

Lackluster education should be blamed, in part, on the tone set by state lawmakers, Moreno said. Florida's statues on say that during any instruction on AIDS, or health education a school shall: "Teach abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for all school-age students while teaching the benefits of monogamous heterosexual marriage."

The Miami-Dade school system has adopted a more comprehensive health education curriculum, said Rosa Pache, the project manager of the HIV/STD prevention education program for Miami-Dade Public Schools. Though health education in Miami-Dade teaches the benefits of abstinence, it also shares methods of safe sex for those who choose to be sexually active and has a policy of inclusiveness for all sexualities, she added.

Some say the STD increase may be the result of a more prolific hook-up culture, which may lower the bar for frequency of sexual activity with unfamiliar partners. Social media sites and phone dating apps like Tinder allow people to find sexual partners quicker and easier than ever before.

Both the Florida Health Department and Miami-Dade schools are working to decrease the number of STDs in South Florida. The health department has expanded its testing sites and includes a mobile STD/HIV testing unit.

Pache said that the Miami-Dade school system is helping develop an app that will allow students to find testing locations.

Explore further: Many STDs may go undiagnosed, US report finds

Related Stories

Many STDs may go undiagnosed, US report finds

June 10, 2014
(HealthDay)—About 400,000 Americans may have the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia, but not know they have it, new research suggests.

Teens, young adults bear disproportionate share of STDs

April 28, 2013
In the heat of the moment, it's a good bet sexually transmitted infections are the last thing on a teen's or young adult's mind. Thus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, young people ages ...

US syphilis rate up; mostly gay and bisexual men

May 8, 2014
Health officials say syphilis has reached its highest level since 1995 with the increase all in men.

Two sex-spread diseases increase, syphilis down

November 17, 2011
(AP) -- Cases of some common sexually spread diseases continue to increase in the United States, but the syphilis rate dropped last year for the first time in a decade.

More STD screening on horizon for women?

April 28, 2014
(HealthDay)—A federal task force is poised to advise doctors to regularly screen all sexually active American women and girls up to age 24 for the sexually transmitted diseases chlamydia and gonorrhea, which often don't ...

Recommended for you

Fresh approach to tuberculosis vaccine offers better protection

January 17, 2018
A unique platform that resulted in a promising HIV vaccine has also led to a new, highly effective vaccine against tuberculosis that is moving toward testing in humans.

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

New study validates clotting risk factors in chronic kidney disease

January 17, 2018
In late 2017, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) discovered and published (Science Translational Medicine, (9) 417, Nov 2017) a potential treatment target to prevent chronic kidney disease (CKD) ...

Newly-discovered TB blood signal provides early warning for at-risk patients

January 17, 2018
Tuberculosis can be detected in people with HIV infection via a unique blood signal before symptoms appear, according to a new study by researchers from the Crick, Imperial College London and the University of Cape Town.

New study offers insights on genetic indicators of COPD risk

January 16, 2018
Researchers have discovered that genetic variations in the anatomy of the lungs could serve as indicators to help identify people who have low, but stable, lung function early in life, and those who are particularly at risk ...

Previous influenza virus exposures enhance susceptibility in another influenza pandemic

January 16, 2018
While past exposure to influenza A viruses often builds immunity to similar, and sometimes different, strains of the virus, Canadian researchers are calling for more attention to exceptions to that rule.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2014
STD's on the rise....yep, that's bad. BUT, don't worry about THAT killing you, oh NO! Worry about how bad the average person in that area drives!!!! That area, around the city of Miami, could finance the national debt with the tickets you could hand out for traffic violations there - I aint kidding ya.

Attractive physical location, GOOD LOOKING people, but, there must be something in the food and water that turns a steering wheel into a deadly weapon when it is in contact with the hands of a person and attached to an automobile.

Word to ya muthas
1 / 5 (1) Sep 10, 2014
Syphilis and oh yeah, her sister Chlamydia, heard about dem bitches!!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.