Dept. of Public Health is reporting increase in cases of syphilis among gay men – WGMD.COM

by Symptom Advice on March 14, 2012

Syphilis cases are up in gay men, according to the Delaware Department of Public Health.

76 cases of syphilis were reported to the Health Department last year. Nearly all of them were diagnosed among gay men, and the majority of those cases were in New Castle County. The department says this may be part of a rising trend in syphilis among gay men throughout the country, as increases in cases have been reported in cities such as New York, Miami, San Francisco and Chicago.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that’s transmitted from contact with an infected person. The disease can go for years without showing any symptoms, and can lead to neurological and cardiovascular problems, among others. The Health Department says that safer sex practices and STD testing play a major role in preventing and treating the disease. The department says syphilis can be treated with just a single shot of penicillin.

Delaware Syphilis Cases on the Rise

Gay Men particularly Hard Hit

Safer Sex Practices and more Testing Vital

The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) reported today a sharp increase in Syphilis cases among men who have sex with men (MSM).  In 2011, 76 cases of early syphilis were reported to DPH compared with 23 cases for the same time period in 2010.  over 90% of these cases were among MSM with the majority occurring in New Castle County.

The Delaware data demonstrates the vital role that safer sex practices and sexually-transmitted disease testing play in prevention and treatment.

The increase is cases may be part of a larger trend across the country.  according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), increases among MSM have been reported in Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Southern California, Miami, and New York City over the past several years.  In these cases, a corresponding high rate of Human Immunodeficiency (HIV) co-infection have also been documented in these outbreaks, ranging from 20 percent to 70 percent.

Although syphilis infection occurs from persons with syphilitic sores who are in the early stages of the disease, many of these sores are unrecognized. Thus, transmission may occur from persons who are unaware of their infection. Many people infected with syphilis in the later stages do not have any symptoms for years, yet if untreated, can lead to damage throughout the body including neurological and cardiovascular complications. Syphilis also increases the risk of HIV infection and, for women, can cause problems during pregnancy and for the newborn.

In most cases, syphilis is easily treated with a single injection of penicillin. Penicillin will also stop syphilis infection in contacts that may not yet show symptoms or signs.  For further information on syphilis symptoms, prevention, and treatment, call Delaware Division of Public Health’s STD Program at 302-744-1050

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