March 2005: STDs

America’s Health Burden from Sexual Activity As part of an analysis of the burden of disease and injury in the USA, researchers identified/quantified the incidence of adverse health events, deaths, and disability adjusted life years (DALY) attributed to sexual behavior. DALY is a number that combines into a single measurement the loss of healthy years of life from an illness and the years of life cut short by premature death from an illness. While total deaths caused by sexual behavior for both men and women were 29,782, the total cost in Disability Adjusted Life Years was more than 2 million… The study noted that its data “included more unsafe sex related conditions than were considered in previous analyses for the United States” including “hepatitis, infertility,” damage to men’s reproductive capabilities, “maternal conditions, and abortions.” This study is unique because it measures the health ramifications of sexual conduct by counting not only death and diseases but by examining other adverse health affects related to sex. In 1998, about 20 million such events (7532/100 000 people) and 29,782 such deaths (1.3% of all US deaths) occurred, contributing to 2,161 417 DALYs (6.2% of all US DALYs). Viral infections and their sequelae accounted for nearly all sexual behavior related deaths—mostly HIV/AIDS. Sexual behavior attributed DALYs in the USA are threefold higher than that in overall established market economies. “Measuring adverse outcomes of reproduction or sexual behaviour by counting deaths or diseases alone is inadequate for a proper understanding of the dimensions of the issue. Many such adverse outcomes occur at a young age leading to a large component of lifespan lived with...