The United States spends just $1 to prevent sexually transmitted diseases for every $43 spent treating the 12 million cases diagnosed each year, says a report.
The Institute of Medicine labeled sexually transmitted diseases the nation's "hidden epidemic" - particularly among teenagers, who suffer a staggering 3 million cases a year. It called Tuesday for a national campaign to wipe them out.The diseases are "far more common than most Americans are aware," said report co-author Dr. Edward Hook III of the University of Alabama. "They attack people early in their life but . . . these diseases change people's lives and affect them for the rest of their lives."
Sexually transmitted diseases, known as STDs in public-education campaigns, include dozens of disorders transmitted by unprotected sex, from syphilis and gonorrhea to the liver-destroying hepatitis B. Left untreated, these illnesses can cause infertility, cancer, birth defects, miscarriages and even death.