Men are throwing away condoms as gonorrhea and syphilis rates rise

  • The number of men using condoms as their main form of contraception has decreased by 33% over the past 10 years.
  • At the same time, the number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases remains high and experts fear their spread.
  • Health experts say long-acting contraceptives and HIV prevention drugs may make condoms less popular.

A growing number of men are having sex without a condom, causing STD experts to sound the alarm as cases of gonorrhea and syphilis continue to rise, the Washington Post reports.

The rate of men using condoms as their primary contraceptive has dropped 33% since 2011, according to data from a national survey by the Department of Health and Human Services. In 2011, 75% of men used condoms, while 42% said they would use them as their first choice in 2021.

The trend concerns STD experts because untreated syphilis can lead to infertility, organ damage and death. Gonorrhea is also becoming resistant to some antibiotics, making it more difficult to treat.

During the biennial STD Prevention Conference in September, David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, called STD rates “out of control.”

In 2021, there will be a total of 2.5 million new cases of gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia, the three STDs local health departments must monitor, according to preliminary CDC data.

The number of syphilis cases is the highest since 1991, with a total of 171,074 new cases in 2021. There has also been an increase in congenital syphilis, which is passed from mother to child in the womb. There were 2,677 new cases in 2021 and at least 139 newborn deaths in 2020.

Health experts say long-acting birth control and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drugs to prevent HIV may cause men to avoid condoms.

However, there is no data to show a correlation between the use of these drugs and a decrease in condom use. PrEP users must also undergo regular STD screenings in order for their doctor to prescribe the medication.

“Historically, when young people used condoms, they were largely afraid to use them because of the threat of HIV or unwanted pregnancy. Now they have more options to prevent those things,” Harvey told the Washington Post.

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