Recent change in the annual pattern of sexually transmitted diseases in the United States

Chronobiol Int. 2007;24(5):947-60. doi: 10.1080/07420520701648325.


This study analyzed the 1999 to 2003 database of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for seasonal and longer-term time trends in the sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in the United States. Linear regression was used to ascertain time trends, and a linear mixed auto-regression model was applied to determine the statistical significance of the major peaks relative to the annualized time series mean. A statistically significant increasing trend during the 5 yr span was documented only in the incidence of chlamydia. No clear annual periodicity was detected in any of the STDs; instead, significant three-month cycles were documented in all the STDs, with prominent peaks evident in March, May, August, and November. The March and May peaks could be associated with the sexual activities of young adults during spring break, which for different colleges and universities, commences as early as mid- to late-February and concludes as late as early- to mid-April, when huge numbers of sexually active youth congregate at beach resort settings. We propose the August peak is representative of summer sexual activity, in particular, of youths during school recess when adult supervision is poor. Finally, the autumn peak seems to be an expression of an endogenous annual rhythm in human reproductive biology, exemplified by elevated levels of testosterone in young males and sexual activity at this time of the year.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S.
  • Chlamydia Infections / epidemiology
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Gonorrhea / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Seasons*
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / transmission
  • Syphilis / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology