NCDHHS: STD rate increased during COVID-19 pandemic

Nation and World News

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Numbers from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services have revealed that the transmission rates of some sexually transmitted diseases have gone up in Mecklenburg County before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

FOX46 compared the numbers from January through March 2021, and the same period in 2020.  The numbers indicate that while numbers of chlamydia have gone down, numbers for gonorrhea, primary and secondary syphilis, and HIV have gone up. 

For HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, that number was nearly double of what it was in the same period in 2020.

“It’s the hardest thing to try and predict human behavior,” said Donna Smith with the Mecklenburg County Health Department.

Smith said rates of people contracting sexually transmitted diseases were up before the pandemic, and highlighted urban areas that are more likely to see higher rates.  The data from NCDHHS also found that the cases were disproportionately affecting African-American populations.

For most of the last year, lockdowns were in place and many places were closed or had limited hours, along with social distancing.  But the numbers appear to show, in a more global context, that many people did not stay in their homes during lockdowns, despite orders to do so.

“We know that behavior trumps knowledge,” said Matt Jenkins with the Mecklenburg County Health Department.

Jenkins noted continued efforts to target testing and prevention efforts towards those in marginalized communities, and that–in some cases–at-home sexually transmitted infection testing is available.

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