[Dr’ John] Walters said he can rarely treat STIs effectively in an emergency setting. Lab tests require days to confirm the diagnosis, so he is often left with no option but to treat without a positive test or send the patient home empty-handed.
Pearson and his colleagues at the CDC found there was a 2 percent increase between 2008 and 2013 in the total number of emergency visits, and a 39 percent increase, specifically, in STI-related visits. They found patients receiving STI care in emergency departments were typically not white and usually were covered by public insurance programs, like Medicaid. They included in their research cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and “unspecified venereal disease,” the most common STIs.
South Carolina hasn’t escaped the national trend. Between 2010 and 2014, there was nearly a 30 percent increase in the number of people showing up to South Carolina emergency departments with STIs, according to data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Although syphilis was not included in the CDC study because it is less common, that particular sexually transmitted disease has also long been on the rise in South Carolina.