NYC has uptick in STI infections, fueled by COVID; syphilis jumps in both men, women

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Photo credit Joe Raedle/Getty Images

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The New York City Department of Health reported Wednesday an uptick in sexually transmitted disease infections from 2019 to 2020, with COVID-19 at fault.

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Preliminary data found that in that one-year period primary and secondary syphilis diagnoses increased in both men and women — at 9% and 24% respectively — as well as with a 5% increase in gonorrhea diagnoses among women.

Yet, the department still noted decreases in gonorrhea in men and chlamydia infections in both men and women.

Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi said limits to testing, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, had an impact on the STI increase.

"We know that sexually transmitted infection (STI) transmission has continued throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency, however, many New Yorkers did not seek routine testing last year,” he said.

Other factors also driven by the coronavirus — including changes in sexual partners, along with reduced testing access and health care services or messaging — contributed to the decrease.

Health data from early 2021 indicates reported STIs are bouncing back to levels observed in 2019 as the city continues to reopen.

Chokshi is encouraging New Yorkers to contact their health care provider and get tested.

“STIs can cause long-lasting harm and I encourage New Yorkers to speak with their health care providers about sexual health services," he said. "New Yorkers can also visit one of the Health Department’s Sexual Health Clinics around the city.”