The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) leads the state’s effort to reduce infectious disease and support a healthier state. To alert Rhode Islanders of the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HEALTH released data today showing that the rates of HIV and several other STDs are increasing.
In Rhode Island, from 2013 to 2014:
• The number of infectious syphilis cases increased by 79%.
• The number of gonorrhea cases increased by 30%.
• The number of newly-identified HIV cases increased by nearly 33%.
• New cases of HIV/AIDS and infectious syphilis continued to increase among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men at a faster rate than in other populations.
• Infection rates of all STDs continued to have a greater impact on the African-American, Hispanic, and young adult populations.
“These data send a clear signal that despite the progress we have made in reducing STDs and HIV over the years, there is more work to do,” said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director Designee at HEALTH. “We are fortunate in Rhode Island to have great partnerships among state agencies, community-based organizations, and healthcare providers to continue to educate, test, and treat for sexually transmitted diseases. This trend reminds us that we cannot become complacent.”
During the 1980s and 1990s, key public health programs helped reduce the transmission of HIV and other STDs. Routine testing of pregnant women has almost eliminated the number of Rhode Island babies born to mothers with HIV. Likewise, needle exchange programs have drastically reduced transmission among injection drug users.