Syphilis cases rise to their highest levels since the 1950s, CDC says

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Syphilis cases in the United States have surged by nearly 80%, reaching over 207,000 between 2018 and 2022, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. Alarming trends are noted among all age groups, including newborns, with an astonishing 937% increase in babies born with syphilis reported in the past decade, totaling 3,755 cases in 2022 alone. Racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected, reflecting long-standing social inequities that contribute to health inequalities.

 

Experts attribute the rise to factors such as increased substance abuse linked to risky sexual behavior, decreased condom use, ongoing socio-economic conditions, and reductions in sexually transmitted infections (STI) services at the state and local levels. The CDC emphasizes the impact of changes in access to sexual health care, given that STIs often lack visible symptoms, and stigma surrounding them can deter people from seeking care.

CDC’s findings highlight an urgent need for enhanced public health efforts and prevention strategies. The CDC urges a comprehensive approach, recognizing the importance of reaching communities with testing, providing services to partners, and delivering treatment directly. Addressing the syphilis resurgence requires coordinated and sustained efforts at federal, state, and local levels, with hopes for innovative prevention tools and better syphilis tests. The CDC stresses the need for adequate funding to effectively implement recommendations, especially in light of potential worsening trends in 2023. The report also notes declines in reported gonorrhea cases but mentions that reported chlamydia cases remained level, collectively contributing to over 2.5 million reported cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia in the U.S. in 2022 alone. Syphilis, if left untreated, can lead to severe health issues, making timely diagnosis and treatment critical.

Source: NPR