Monday, April 19, 2021

We Are Done: The STD Edition

Last week, the 2019 CDC Report entitled National Overview - Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance, 2019 was brought to my attention. (yes, your government dollars at work for a better tomorrow).  A summary of the findings:

- In 2019, Chlamydia (Chlamydia trachomatis) 1,808.703 cases were reported, a 2.8% increase over 2018.   From 2015-2019, rates increased in men 32.1%.  In 2019, 2/3's of all cases were in the population aged 15-24.

- In 2019, 616,392 cases of Gonorrhea (an infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhaea) were reported.  This represents a 92.0% increase since 2009 (emphasis mine).  From 2015-2019, rates increased 60.6% among men and 43.6%.  among women.

- Additionally, 50% of all the reported cases of Gonorrhea were resistant to at least 1 type of antibiotic.

- In 2019, 129,813 cases of Syphilis (an infection caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum) were reported, an 11.2% increase over 2018. Since (apparently) historic lows in 2000 and 2001, the infection rate has steadily increased every year - there was a 30.3% increase in women.   From 2015 - 2019, rates increase 178.1% among women; the male rates remained "Stable".

Per the CDC webpage entitled AMD:  Battling HIV and STDs, (last updated April 2019), the CDC notes approximately 20 million STD infections occur in the US each year and more than 110 million people are infected by a new or existing STD at any given time in the US.  The U.S. population in 2019 was estimated to be 328,239,533 - thus one out of every three of your fellow citizens in 2019 probably had an STD by these numbers.

(Interesting factoid:  Direct cost of treating STDs as presented by this website is $16 Billion)

Why all of this matters, and why we are done.

1)  We have no ability to defer gratification:  A population where one in three people is suffering a disease which is exclusively transmitted by sex (with the sole exception of congenital syphilis, where the mother passes the infection to the baby during pregnancy or birth) is a population which is letting their desires run their lives.  And a population that lets their desires run there lives in one area is seldom able to contain that in one area.  And the inability to defer gratification is the mark of children and failing societies, not ones that are growing and advancing (because for any kind of advancement, delay of gratification has to occur).

2)  Non-Christian Religions and Moral Codes have failed (for my non-Christian Readers): In one of the most surprising things to me in this report, both Gonorrhea and Syphilis at one point in the last 20 years were at historic lows.  Yet somehow with 20 years or less, those rates increased dramatically.  We have dwelt for the last twenty years in a society that has celebrated self and gratification on every level.  Apparently whatever codes were held by them - Professed Paganism, Buddhism, Islam, Stoicism, Atheism, or your choice - did not hold.

3) The Church has failed (for my Christian Readers):  In one of the most surprising things to me in this report, both Gonorrhea and Syphilis at one point in the last 20 years were at historic lows.  Yet somehow with 20 years or less, those rates increased dramatically.  We have dwelt for the last twenty years in a society that has celebrated self and gratification on every level. 

During the 2000-present, we have been constantly told that the Christian church is expanding in ways it never could have as old practices were torn down and barriers removed - including, apparently, that bit in the Bible about not committing adultery or really any kind of sex outside of marriage.  Yes yes, I know, we are not expect the culture to act like a Christian.  But apparently, we somehow failed to transmit any of that message to anyone else or perhaps failed to even convince ourselves of it either.

Can anyone really cogently believe that a society that can has the ability to dedicate itself to the pursuit of pleasure in this fashion and the resulting outcomes in terms of disease, treatment, and cost (That $16 Billion trivia number above) is going to be in a position to do great things, or really anything?

Do not confuse me with calling for some kind of grand Christian crusade here (of course I would like you all to believe, but that is a separate issue).  I am just asking for the simple practice of treating disease like a disease.  If something is really destructive - and STDs really are - and really widespread - 110,000,000 people - is too much to ask that people starting using a little self restraint and concern for others (because infection, as you know, is a two way street).

To be frank and being a watcher of recent societal trends, I am not hopeful.

(Do me a favor:  It is a relatively touchy subject and could go lots of directions, most of which I try not to get into here.  If you could confine your comments to my three suggested points of failure and my ask, that would be appreciated.  Thank you).


  1. I think the current term is "hookup culture". Yeah, it's not a good sign. And the infection rates at those "no kids allowed" retirement communities in FL are outrageous.

    However: Christianity has been acculturated for quite a while. I've met folks that were "Christian" because they were born here. No Biblical definition at all. There is a reason the Bible talks about a remnant. (Will He find faith here at all when He returns?) I truly believe we are witnessing a great opportunity for the Gospel, as the entire world is breaking into this country in spite of "systemic racism". (Which is another word for cow patties)

    I had the good fortune to attend a real Christian college. One of our profs had a very good cadre talk on 'One Pot vs. Two Pot Christianity'. It's so easy to do the right thing on Sunday, or while folks are watching and live like a heathen the rest of the week (Two Pot). It's an entirely different life when you are true to your faith 24/7. (One Pot) Part of that comes from the reduced attendance at church. An ember dies by itself rather quickly.

    It's a touchy subject. Oh, wait...

    1. STxAR - In the commentary I haver read around this (yes, it has generated more than one InterWeb Article) the ease of "hooking up" due to technology has been noted. Used to be one had to make efforts to do such things; not it literally a text away.

      And yes, Christianity is largely (at least from my point of view) just like the culture at this point. Our music sounds the same, our entertainment is the same, what we talk about and do in church is the same as the outside world.

      It is odd to me (probably worthy of a blog post at some point) that there is such a dichotomy in Christian Living. We are hardly unrecognizable from the general culture, and thus likely will be swept away with it.

  2. While I think your three points of failure are valid, I think you are missing a fourth point that is perhaps even bigger. (I can't find graphs that go back far enough to prove this though.)

    I think AIDS is a significant reason. Back when you and I were growing up post hippy generation, AIDS was a huge concern and often a topic of discussion. Back then it was a death sentence and indeed, I know several people who were neighbors to our family who died from the disease. It certainly played a roll in my mind as I matured. These days AIDS is no longer a death sentence and indeed can even be prevented and kept in the HIV state. I think it no longer scares kids, or possibly even enters their consciousness like it did when we were young.

    1. Ed, I am old enough to remember this. At one time, I worked a company working on a vaccine for AIDs. It was seen (rightly) as a death sentence. Thanks to medical technology that has indeed changed -but as you say, the fear of it as a death sentence is no longer visible as a motivator (although to be fair, living with any disease as a chronic condition is not desirable either. I wish this was emphasized more.)

      Also, interestingly enough, when I click through to the CDC's page on this, the first thing that comes up is "Having an STD can increase your chance of getting HIV". So yes, the message is out there - but the risk is apparently worth taking?

  3. Research John Bumpass Calhoun.

    1. Just So - I learned something new today. Thank you for the information. I have heard versions of this, but never the source. Interesting question: His work was based on the idea of overpopulations. At least here in the US, we are not technically "overpopulated", unless one perhaps applies that to the urban arena - is that your thinking?

      Also, fascinated to read that his work was the basis of the book The Rats of NIMH. I loved that growing up.

    2. He was trying to "perfect" the carrying capacity of dense populations. Regardless of access to food and shelter, once a certain density was reached, the society crashed and destroyed itself (I think according to my reading of the limited source material, and commentary in relation to his work).

    3. Hmm. Makes sense. Since his findings seem to reflect the world we live in, I assume that it means we have reached "density". At least we know what to expect from here...

  4. My parents, and especially my in laws, will tell you that there is nothing more important in life than Being Happy. In my experience there is only one definitive work on attaining that - but the bible offends people that have their own ideas about attaining happiness. Most of that crowd are deeply UN-happy, and blame others for their unhappiness. I did it for the longest time, and still do on occasion. It is a cancer upon the soul.

    Being happy takes good judgement, hard work, and commitment. There are no shortcuts. What a crappy comment I just made - I could be miles better off if I just practiced what I preach, HAR HAR HAR!

    Being unhappy, unfortunately is all too easy. Stupid, lazy people will have the problems that go along with that, and they deserve them too. All we can do in times like these are huddle together in like-minded groups, and forge ahead the best we can.

    1. Glen - That is the current zeitgeist, is is not? Happiness is considered the greatest and highest good. And therefore, anything that is allowable to achieve that is permitted, even if it creates ultimate unhappiness.

      I like your comment about being happy taking good judgement, hard work, and commitment. I think are doing those things - I just think it takes a lot more time that any of us would like it to.

      And yes, at some point stupidity and laziness come back to haunt people - as ye reap, so shall ye sow. I do not know that there is a great obligation beyond warning folks to be more involved than that.

  5. I have recognized for many years that if we do not solve our cultures problems, Nature will. And Nature's solutions are not pretty from our anthropocentric point of view.
    I remember vividly when AIDS became a medical issue around 1984, and we debated endlessly about whether or not we in the medical field had a right to know if any given patient was or was not an AIDS case. Our pathologists concluded that no, we did not have any such right, and we were to practice "universal precautions" in treating any given specimen as if capable of transmitting disease. Hepatitis and TB were actually much more common threats to us in the laboratory.
    Now long retired from such occupational risk, I have been saying, only half in snark, that there are certain advantages to being an asocial recluse.

    1. Greg, at one point in the time/space continuum, I worked for a company working on an AIDs drug. Rather interestingly, the it resembled The Current Plague in that the more we learned, the more interesting and confusing it got.

      Nature, as the late Gene Logsdon would say, could just as easily be referred to as Old B!tch Nature as Mother Nature. We add a layer of beauty and innocence to it that does not really exist. And yes, Nature will take care of our problems in ways that are not pretty at all.

      And yes, being an asocial recluse is more and more coming to look like the "hip" thing to do.

  6. Anonymous8:09 PM

    I think everyone here could benefit from reading Philippians 4. Once done with reading it go back and focus on verses 8 - 13 about being happy and content and how to finds these particular states of being.


    1. Matt - These are very good verses indeed. The problem, though, is that if one is not a Christian, one is not looking at these things. And unfortunately, most of Christianity is no longer asking people to look at these sorts of things.

      Thanks for stopping by!


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