Mecklenburg County’s Sexually Transmitted Infection Numbers Increased During COVID, While The Country’s Went Down

CHARLOTTE, NC. —    In Mecklenburg County, Sexually Transmitted Infections, like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis, increased by roughly 13% from January 2020 to November 2020, according to the county health department. But during a CDC STD prevention conference, experts said STI’s took a downturn nationwide in 2020. Most likely because testing for STIs was made difficult by the pandemic. Meaning there’s a likelihood STIs are going undetected.

WCCB Charlotte’s Alexandra Elich asked the county health department why Mecklenburg’s numbers are up when the rest of the country’s are down. We are waiting on a response.

Elizabeth Finley with Shift NC says young people in our state are having a harder time accessing STI tests.

“We’ve also heard anecdotally from some of the health departments or other providers that getting their hands-on testing supplies has been a little more difficult,” Finley says.

According to the CDC, STI’s remain common and costly to the nation’s health. One in five people in the U.S. has an STI. New STIs total nearly $16 billion in direct medical costs.

Yale professor and social epidemiologist Dr. Nicholas Christakis has a new book called Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound And Enduring Impact Of Coronavirus On The Way We Live. He says society will make up for lost time as soon as it’s safe too.

Finley says when the pandemic subsides, healthcare providers need to be prepared.

“Every time they see a patient, especially an adolescent patient, so when they do get back into those offices, we need providers to be at the ready to test for infections or ask if those tests are needed.”

Wendy Strgar is the CEO and Founder of Good Clean Love. She says the silver lining of COVID; people are more comfortable talking about their health, history, and who they’ve been around to people they don’t know that well.

“If people would start to enter relationships and be like, what’s your status and everybody owns, OK this is what I know about my STI history, and I’m totally down to just both of us getting tested come, and there wasn’t any bad feelings or stigma around it, then it will just be normalized,” Strgar says.