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Syphilis cases in the US surge to 70-year high: CDC

Covid-19 US Depression

HQ Team

February 2, 2024: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that syphilis cases in the United States have reached their highest levels since the 1950s. The latest data, though not including 2023 figures, reveals an alarming 80% increase in syphilis cases between 2018 and 2022, totaling over 207,000 new cases in the latter year. This surge encompasses both sexually transmitted syphilis and congenital syphilis.

Dr. Laura Bachmann, acting director of the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, expressed deep concern, stating, “The U.S. syphilis epidemic worsened yet another year, and swift action is urgently needed to slow the curve.”

The rise in syphilis cases is not uniform across demographics. The most infectious stages of syphilis, known as primary and secondary, witnessed an increase in all age groups and regions throughout the country. Alarmingly, specific racial and ethnic minority groups, particularly American Indian and Alaska Native peoples, experienced disproportionately high rates.

Congenital syphilis, affecting newborns, also showed significant disparities. In 2022, 1 in every 155 births among certain groups experienced congenital syphilis. Black and Hispanic communities reported the highest numbers of cases in sheer overall numbers.

The report highlights a staggering 30% rise in congenital syphilis cases from 2021 to 2022, marking a 937% increase over the past decade. Texas, California, Arizona, Florida, and Louisiana accounted for 57% of all reported congenital syphilis cases in 2022, leading to 282 stillbirths and infant deaths nationwide.

Reasons for surge in cases

Several factors contribute to the surge in syphilis cases, including reduced condom use and substance abuse, linked to less safe sexual practices, stated by Jonathan Mermin, the director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases, and tuberculosis prevention. The COVID-19 pandemic is also cited as a potential contributing factor, diverting attention from monitoring and responding to sexually transmitted infections.

Public health experts are urging governments and health centers to intensify syphilis prevention efforts. They emphasized the importance of destigmatizing sexually transmitted infections, stating.

Crucially, syphilis is curable with antibiotics, and timely diagnosis and treatment can prevent congenital syphilis. The pressing need for prevention efforts underscores the urgency in addressing this escalating public health crisis.

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