Improved Services In NYC Lead To Increased Detection Of Sexually Transmitted Infections

February 13, 2024

The Health Department today released its 2022 Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) Surveillance Report highlighting the ongoing need for New Yorkers to get tested and treated for STIs and employ prevention tactics that work for them.

While the number of STIs reported in New York City increased across several demographic groups from 2021 to 2022, these increases may be partly due to increased STI testing following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when sexual health care services were less accessible.  

 “The data underscore the importance of sexual health support and services,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “As more people return to care, our detection improves. Yet we also have so much work to promote equitable access to care and delivery of services. We’ll be communicating with our partners in health care and with community-based organizations to continue building on effective strategies to promote health and prevent sexually transmitted infections.”  

“Getting tested for STIs is of utmost importance,” said Dr. Sarah Braunstein, Assistant Commissioner for the Health Department’s Bureau of Hepatitis, HIV, and Sexually Transmitted Infections. “Knowing your STI status allows you to take care of yourself and your sexual partners, get treatment if you need it, and acts as a gateway into longer-term sexual health care.” 

In 2022, as the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic eased, access to and use of sexual health services improved, which likely contributed to increased detection of STIs. In addition, New York City was the national epicenter of a 2022 mpox outbreak, which was predominantly transmitted through sexual contact and likely led to increases in sexual health care seeking and screening for other STIs. 

From 2021 to 2022, the chlamydia rate increased 5 percent among men and 1 percent among women in New York City. In 2022, teen and young adult women ages 15 to 24 years had a chlamydia rate of five times that of all women in New York City and cases among teens and young women accounted for approximately 58 percent of all chlamydia cases among women. Similar disparities were seen in 2021.  

From 2021 to 2022, the gonorrhea rate increased 11 percent among men and decreased 15 percent among women in New York City. Among men, gonorrhea rates were highest among those ages 25 to 34 years, and the number of men with rectal chlamydia or gonorrhea infections increased for the second consecutive year. The rate of gonorrhea among women decreased by 15 percent. 

From 2021 to 2022, the primary and secondary syphilis rate increased 3 percent in New York City, driven by a 36 percent increase among women. Rates have gone up disproportionately among Latina/Hispanic and Black women, many of whom may face barriers to care. In 2022, there were 19 cases of congenital syphilis in New York City, a decrease from last year.  

However, there was a rise in congenital syphilis cases from 2018 through 2021, corresponding to surges in primary and secondary syphilis cases among women. The Health Department continues to work with the New York State Department of Health and provider and community partners as part of the statewide Congenital Syphilis Elimination Planning Group to develop improved strategies and recommendations around screening and other prevention measures. The Health Department today sent a Health Advisory to thousands of providers in New York City highlighting the increase in primary and secondary syphilis among females and congenital syphilis and providing recommendations on syphilis screening, diagnosis, and treatment. 

To address inequities in the burden of STIs by race and ethnicity, neighborhood, and other factors, the Health Department continues to fund partners based on their ability to provide quality sexual health care to patients in neighborhoods disproportionately affected by STIs; conduct assessments to better understand awareness of and preferences for STI prevention interventions; and explore innovative ways to integrate and strengthen STI services in non-traditional settings such as harm reduction centers. 

New to the Health Department’s STI Surveillance Report are data on mpox in New York City, following the 2022 outbreak. In 2022, there were 3,822 reported mpox cases in New York City, most of them among people ages 25 to 44 years, Black or Hispanic/Latin(o/a) people, men, and LGBQ+ people. Following this outbreak, New York State classified mpox an STI, as intimate contact was and continues to be the principal mode of transmission. 

“Open access to data is essential to finally eliminating stubborn health disparities,” said Dr. Joseph Osmundson, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at New York University. “In 2022, New York City became the global epicenter of the mpox epidemic, which disproportionately affected New Yorkers living with HIV, queer people, unhoused people, Black and Brown residents, and those at the intersections of these identities. Mpox is still here, with over 100 cases in 2023.” 

Since last November, the Health Department has released various resources on doxy PEP (doxycycline post-exposure prophylaxis), including guidance and recommendations for health care providers, a factsheet, and an infographic on how to take doxy PEP. Doxy PEP is the use of the antibiotic doxycycline soon after condomless sex to help prevent chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, which studies have shown to be effective among cisgender men who have sex with men and transgender women who have sex with men. Using condoms during sex can also help prevent STIs, as can getting vaccinated for certain STIs and using PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to protect against HIV.  

“Doxy PEP represents a significant advance in biomedical STI prevention,” said Dr. Jason Zucker, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. “The tactical deployment of doxy-PEP in populations disproportionately impacted by STIs is an important public health strategy with the potential to reverse years of increasing STI rates and to reduce the STI inequities that affect people of different ages, races and ethnicities, genders, and neighborhoods.” 

“Sexual health conversations that begin with an open-ended question about the patient’s sexual health concerns, use non-judgmental language, and focus on self-efficacy, agency, and the benefits of sexual health intervention, have tremendous potential to empower and engage patients,” said Dr. Sarit Golub, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Hunter College, CUNY. “The GOALS Framework for Sexual History Taking in Primary Care approach facilitates patient-provider relationships by normalizing sexuality as a routine part of health care.” 

The Health Department’s Sexual Health Clinics and Sexual Health Clinic Hotline offer low- to no-cost services for STIs, including HIV. Anyone 12 years or older can receive services, regardless of immigration status. Parental consent is not necessary. The Chelsea and Fort Greene Express Clinics offer rapid testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea. The Sexual Health Clinic Hotline is available at 347-396-7959, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For more information, visit

To find STI and HIV services or free safer sex product distribution sites in New York City, visit the NYC Health Map

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Harlem World Magazine, 2521 1/2 west 42nd street, Los Angeles, CA, 90008, You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact
We're your source for local coverage, we count on your support. SPONSOR US!
Your support is crucial in maintaining a healthy democracy and quality journalism. With your contribution, we can continue to provide engaging news and free access to all.
accepted credit cards

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Articles