Background: Most sexually active people will be infected with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) at some point in their lives. The number of STIs in the United States was previously estimated in 2000. We updated previous estimates to reflect the number of STIs for calendar year 2008.
Methods: We reviewed available data and literature and conservatively estimated incident and prevalent infections nationally for 8 common STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, human papillomavirus, hepatitis B, HIV, and trichomoniasis. Where available, data from nationally representative surveys such as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were used to provide national estimates of STI prevalence or incidence. The strength of each estimate was rated good, fair, or poor, according to the quality of the evidence.
Results: In 2008, there were an estimated 110 million prevalent STIs among women and men in the United States. Of these, more than 20% of infections (22.1 million) were among women and men aged 15 to 24 years. Approximately 19.7 million incident infections occurred in the United States in 2008; nearly 50% (9.8 million) were acquired by young women and men aged 15 to 24 years. Human papillomavirus infections, many of which are asymptomatic and do not cause disease, accounted for most of both prevalent and incident infections.
Conclusions: Sexually transmitted infections are common in the United States, with a disproportionate burden among young adolescents and adults. Public health efforts to address STIs should focus on prevention among at-risk populations to reduce the number and impact of STIs.
In 2008, there were an estimated 110 million prevalent sexually transmitted infections among persons in the United States. Of 19.7 million incident sexually transmitted infections, 50% were acquired by persons aged 15 to 24 years.
From the *Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, GA; and †Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Kansas Medical School, Kansas City, KS
Acknowledgments: The authors thank the following individuals for providing expertise and feedback during the development of this manuscript: Harrell Chesson, PhD; Sarah Gerver, PhD, MSc; Susan Hariri, PhD; Brooke Hoots, PhD, MSPH; Sarah Kidd, MD, MPH; Robert Kirkcaldy, MD, MPH; Lauri Markowitz, MD; Thomas Peterman, MD, MSc; Henry Roberts, PhD; and Mark Stenger, MA. Without the support and data provided by state and local health departments that conduct HIV, sexually transmitted disease/sexually transmitted infection, and viral hepatitis surveillance, as well as those that conduct HIV incidence surveillance, this manuscript would not have been possible.
The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Conflicts of interest and source of funding: None declared.
Correspondence: Catherine Lindsey Satterwhite, PhD, MSPH, MPH, Division of STD Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Rd. NE, Mailstop E80, Atlanta, GA 30333. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Received for publication June 12, 2012, and accepted November 21, 2012.
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