Sexually transmitted diseases are a public health issue. Over the past five years, states like South Carolina have seen a “steep increase” in their sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) numbers. HIV, in the south, has increased in no small part due to a scarcity of preventative drugs. That scarcity comes from prohibitive costs, racism, poverty and general hostilities toward LGBTQ communities. And while major cities like San Francisco and New York are still the most centralized areas for STDs like syphilis, rural America is beginning to see their own uptick in the STD.
According to the Daily Beast, places like Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma have seen their numbers of syphilis cases grow over the past few years, with Missouri’s numbers having “more than quadrupled since 2012 — jumping from 425 to 1,896 cases last year.” And these numbers are up across the board. Dallas County recently won the terrible distinction of the highest increases in chlamydia and gonorrhoea this past year. Some of the reasons for the uptick has to do with our country’s increased use of drugs, and the general taboos surrounding STDs, keeping some rural Americans from getting tested and treated; but the dominant reason is our crumbling public health infrastructure, the one that conservatives want to return to.
Trump’s recent budget proposal includes some upfront money to treat HIV in the rural areas seeing a rise, but at the cost of larger cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and preventative care infrastructure. With zero plans on how to bring down the costs on prescription drugs, 2020 and a bluer wave cannot come fast enough.