NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

The New York City Health Department today announced increases in gonorrhea and syphilis among  females in the city during the first half of 2021.


The Health Department reported a 23% increase in gonorrhea cases and a 17% increase in cases of primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis (the stages when syphilis is most infectious) reported among females from the first half of 2019 to the first half of 2021, with most cases among Black or Latino females.

Data indicate that sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening in New York City sharply declined during the first half of 2020, making comparisons between 2020 and 2021 difficult.

“We are deeply concerned about increases in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among female New Yorkers, and we know that many New Yorkers have deferred routine sexual health services, such as STI testing, during the pandemic,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. “Sexual health care is essential to a healthy life. If you are sexually active, now is the time to re-engage with routine STI testing so that you can seek treatment as soon as possible if you are positive.”


Cases among people reported as Black or Latino accounted for the majority of female gonorrhea cases (58% of female cases with known race/ethnicity) and female P&S syphilis cases (75%) in the first half of 2021.

Sexually active females under 25 years of age should get tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia at least once a year. Females 25 years and older should get tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia if they have new or multiple sex partners, if they have a sex partner who has an STI, or if they exchange sex for money or other resources.

In New York City, pregnant people must get tested for syphilis three times during pregnancy: at their first prenatal encounter, at 28 to 32 weeks of their pregnancy, and at delivery. Syphilis testing is indicated for all females at increased risk of infection, including sexually active females who have changes in sex partners or behaviors, a sex partner(s) who is diagnosed with an STI, a history of incarceration, or a history of exchanging sex for money or other resources.

STIs such as gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia are common and curable. However, if left untreated, they can cause lasting health effects, including infertility and chronic pelvic pain. Syphilis can cause vision and hearing loss, dementia, and paralysis. When a pregnant person has syphilis, the infection can be passed to the fetus (congenital syphilis), which can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight, or death after birth. Having an STI can also make it easier to get or transmit HIV. Most STIs have no signs or symptoms early on, so it is important to get tested routinely or if indicated, and treated promptly.