Comparing Presidents, STDs

This post looks at the evolution in the rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) since 1952. I did have a previous post on STDs a while back in which I had a little fun, noting that “states that voted for GW show higher average and median incidences of gonorrhea and syphilis, and a higher average incidence of chlamydia, than states that voted against him.”

Data for STDs comes from Centers for Disease Control, and I’m focusing on gonorrhea and syphilis, the two diseases for which data is available going back to 1952. Note that for syphilis, I am ignoring cases of neurosyphilis” which seems to be fairly rare and only started being reported in 1997. Thus, syphilis cases reported include primary and second stage, early latent, late latent, and congenital. Data for gonorrhea includes all reported sufferers.

Here are graphs…

Some tables…

Gonorrhea seems to have peaked in the mid 1970s, and rates began to inch down under Carter. The trend accelerated under Reagan, finally coming to a halt a slightly reversing shortly after the 1995 Republican Revolution. Syphilis rates followed a slightly different path… falling under each President until Ronald Reagan, and then peaking in 1991. The 1990s saw substantial drops in syphilis cases, and Clinton made it something of a healthcare priority, culminating in the 1999 “National Plan to Eliminate Syphilis”. Sadly, this plan seems to be on hold, as the decrease in syphilis rates seems to be leveling off and even edging up slightly.

Other than the fact that the Clinton administration put some focus into syphilis, I can only speculate on why the two diseases followed different paths. I believe gonorrhea is easier to cure, as it responds to common antibiotics, whereas syphilis seems to only be easy to cure in its early stages. (Anyone who knows anything about this – feel free to jump in and correct my ignorance.) Thus, in the… you know what? I don’t have an explanation. Anyone know what happened?

(Sorry I haven’t had a chance to provide much explanation… got up late this morning and have a lot to do today.)