The New York City Health Department assured residents on Friday that hooking up is “healthy” amid a reported spike in sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
NYC Health officials are increasing their testing and repurposing COVID-19 infrastructure to address the greater number of STI cases following the city’s relaxation of pandemic lockdown guidelines. (RELATED: ‘Bullets And Drugs And Cars’: Child Mortality Is Rising At The Highest Rate In Half A Century, Analysis Finds)
— Elizabeth Kim (@lizkimtweets) April 3, 2023
“Hooking up can be healthy and as New York City continues to reopen, residents have reconnected. However, new data show an increase in reported sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in New York City from 2020 to 2021, likely due to reduced STI screening and testing related to the COVID-19 pandemic and decreased STI transmission in 2020,” the department said in a Friday press release. “But getting frisky doesn’t have to be risky. The Health Department is repurposing its COVID-19 infrastructure to respond to STIs.”
Chlamydia cases rose 13.2 percent among males and 5.2 percent among females from 2020 to 2021, according to a report by the NYC Department of Health. The chlamydia rates in the female population were disproportionately concentrated in females aged 10-19, who suffered 25 percent of all chlamydia cases during those two years.
Rates of gonorrhea increased 12.9 percent for males and 4.2 percent for females, and primary and secondary rates of syphilis dropped four percent for men while increasing 28 percent for women.
The health department also raised concerns about “racial and ethnic inequities in the distribution of STIs in New York City.” The rate of primary and secondary syphilis cases among black New Yorkers was 2.9 times higher than whites, and gonorrhea and chlamydia affected high poverty neighborhoods at 2.5 times the rate of low poverty neighborhoods.
City health officials attributed the spike in cases to a lack of available testing during the COVID pandemic and lower transmission rates in 2020.
As New York City reopened in 2021, residents prepared for a “slutty summer” of partying after the pandemic lockdowns, the New York Post reported. The city’s health department report does not explicitly mention potentially higher rates of sexual activity causing higher rates of STIs.
“Whether it’s a fling or a serious thing, STI tests are recommended for all New Yorkers,” NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said. “Less wait time means less stress. Our rapid tests help New Yorkers stay safe. Get tested today.”