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Reported STDs break records for 6th straight year; Local researchers work to stem concerning trend

STI infections on rise
Posted at 12:42 PM, Jun 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-15 05:06:51-04

NORFOLK, Va. – Tidewater Clinical Research is using a public health message to raise awareness and help stem the problematic rising trend in Hampton Roads and across the country.

Sexually transmitted infections (STI), also known as STDs, broke records for the sixth straight year.

According to the CDC, in 2019, there were more than 2.5 million new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis nationwide – a nearly 30% jump since 2015.

Young people aged 15 to 24 reportedly make up more than half of the cases.

In Virginia, 566 cases of chlamydia and 162 gonorrhea cases per 100,000 people were reported in 2019.

Hampton Roads has a higher rate of infection because it is known as a transient area. It has double the number of cases, with about 923 chlamydia cases and about 315 gonorrhea infections per 100,000 people in 2019.

Preliminary data suggests these concerning trends continued in 2020 when COVID-19 caused major disruptions to STI testing and treatment services.

Researchers at Tidewater Clinical Research in Norfolk are enrolling qualified women in clinical trials to help prevent and treat STIs. Dr. Mehdi Parva is one of the investigators.

“The importance of these trials is advancing medicine and science and being able to treat patients better,” Parva said.

A gel could soon be used to prevent chlamydia and gonorrhea infections.

Scientists are determining the efficacy and safety of the EVO100 vaginal gel designed to prevent chlamydia and gonorrhea, two of the most reported infections.

“It doesn't allow the infection to be transmittable and the cells not being susceptible to become infected,” said Parva.

For more information on if you are eligible for the research study on the investigational product, click here.

While these sexually transmitted infections have increased considerably over the past five years, human papillomavirus (HPV) remains the most common STI in the United States.

“About 80% of sexually active individuals, whether it's female or male, can possibly be carrying HPV, and it's usually silent in males,” Parva said.

Scientists are studying how to treat pre-cervical cancer caused by HPV with an injection rather than surgery.

The injection would replace the current standard treatment, which involves a short surgical procedure to remove precancerous cells of the cervix.

“Once it’s injected, like any other vaccination, the body would produce immunity that will fight those cells that that those infected cells with HPV,” said Parva.

For more information on if you are eligible for the HPV or Abnormal PAP clinical trial, click here.

Both STI studies will take three to five years.