Syphilis has long been an issue of concern, but the conversation has slowed over the years in light of the many other diseases and conditions that have become prevalent. However, just because it’s not talked about as much as it was previously, it doesn’t mean it’s not still out there and deeply affecting people.
A new draft recommendation was released in December by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to reiterate this awareness and caution. At higher risk for contracting this sexually transmitted disease are homosexual men and people living with HIV. These groups should undergo consistent screening in order to ensure they are taking the necessary steps to stay safe and protected.
The reason there is so much urgency around this disease is due to the fact that the rates of syphilis have actually been increasing in the United States. In 2014, there were 19,999 cases of the earliest stages of syphilis - the highest number since 1994. Geographically, the southern United States has the largest proportion of syphilis cases at 40%, while the case rate is highest in the West (6.8 cases per 100,000). There is also an increased prevalence of syphilis in metropolitan areas.
This should serve as a reminder to everyone to practice safe sex - condom use and a low number of sexual partners usually lowers your risk for contracting this disease significantly. Whether it’s you, your friends or your children, ensure those around you are aware of this risk and the benefits of regular screening.