Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are increasingly impacting Iowans. Preliminary data from the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) for 2021 show significant increases in some STDs.
Most notably, syphilis has reached its highest numbers in the state in a generation. There were 554 diagnoses of infectious syphilis reported to IDPH in 2021. This is a 55% increase from the preceding year. Shifts are also occurring among our populations in Iowa who are most affected. Although the majority of diagnoses continues to be among men, the number of diagnoses among women nearly tripled in a single year. The increased number of women affected has led to historic increases in congenital syphilis (which occurs when the infection is passed from a pregnant person to the fetus or newborn). In 2021, there were 11 cases of congenital syphilis in Iowa – more than the last 20 years combined. Additionally, rates of syphilis among our Black and Indigenous populations, and populations of color overall, are increasingly disproportionate.
Get Yourself Tested is a campaign encouraging young people to get tested and treated for STDs and HIV to protect their health and that of their partners. STDs affect people of all ages, yet these diseases take a particularly heavy toll on young people.
Disease Intervention Specialists at IDPH and Polk, Linn, Scott, and Black Hawk county health departments work with people affected by HIV and other STDs, like syphilis, every day. Through these services, Iowans receive medical care and referrals to other supportive services. Iowans looking for STD testing can access two testing locator options here or here.
IDPH continues to work with its partner organizations, the medical community, and the public to raise awareness, make risk reduction easier (including increased testing and early diagnosis and treatment), and reduce stigma.