New cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and HIV are on the rise in Rhode Island, a trend that the state health department attributed in part to social media as people increasingly turn to their phones to arrange "casual and often anonymous sexual encounters." Better testing has also contributed to the rising number of infections, the department said.
"Despite the progress we have made in reducing STDs [sexually transmitted diseases] and HIV over the years, there is more work to do," Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director designee at the Rhode Island Department of Health, said in a release. "This trend reminds us that we cannot become complacent."
From 2013 to 2014, syphilis cases rose by 79 percent, gonorrhea by 30 percent and HIV cases by nearly 33 percent, the department said. New cases of these increased faster among men who have sex with men and had a greater impact on African-Americans and Hispanics as well as on youth.
Although the health department stated that the rising rates followed national trends, the most recentdata from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that from 2012 to 2013, rates of gonorrhea remained stable and rates of syphilis increased only among men. Over the same time period,HIV infections were stable as well, and from 2009 to 2013, HIV infections due to injection drugs decreased.
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