New data from the New York City Health Department reveals that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have surged significantly in the city after the lifting of lockdown restrictions, leading to concerns of a new public health crisis caused by post-COVID kink.
According to the agency’s statistics, chlamydia cases increased by 9% between 2020 and 2021, while the number of females diagnosed with primary and secondary syphilis rose by 28.7%.
The spike in infections has alarmed public officials who are urging residents to get tested immediately to prevent further spread. To this end, some centers are now using lab equipment that was originally used for COVID testing to screen for chlamydia and gonorrhea, the department stated in a press release.
“Hooking up is healthy and as New York City continues to reopen, residents have reconnected,” the officials stated. “We encourage New Yorkers to stay active — but STIs are on the rise in New York City, so protect yourself and your partner by getting tested.”
“The city that never sleeps shouldn’t have to wait for STI results,” the release additionally read. “Seek out quickie tests.”
According to the latest data, the rate of chlamydia infection increased by 13.2% among males and 5.2% among females between 2020 and 2021. It is concerning to note that in 2021, approximately one-quarter of all female chlamydia cases were found in those aged between 10 and 19 years.
The health department also reported a “substantial” increase in cases of congenital syphilis, with 17 confirmed cases in 2020 and 24 cases in the following year.
The New York City Health Department pointed out that disparities in STI distribution continue to exist based on race and ethnicity.
According to the data, the rate of primary and secondary syphilis cases reported among black New Yorkers was 2.9 times higher than that among white New Yorkers.
Officials suggest that COVID lockdowns may have also helped to slow the spread of STIs in 2020. They also note that access to STI testing may have been affected during the first year of the pandemic, which may have resulted in lower numbers for 2020.
Nonetheless, many sexually active individuals in the city vowed to have a promiscuous summer of casual sex in 2021, which may have contributed to the rise in infections.
Regardless of their sexual behavior, medical professionals are urging all sexually active New Yorkers to get tested.
“Whether it’s a fling or a serious thing, STI tests are recommended for all New Yorkers,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “Less wait time means less stress. Our rapid tests help New Yorkers stay safe. Get tested today.”
Council member Lynn Schulman, chair of the Health Committee added: “As we recover from the worst public health crisis of our lifetime, it is important to quickly respond to the increase in illnesses and diseases that are occurring in New York City, including STIs.”
“I am glad the health department is … increasing rapid testing to diagnose STIs and treat those in need of sexual health services.”