Is Syphilis back?

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In our last week of STI Awareness month we'd like to shine some light on an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) you may have not put much thought on. Despite the fact that this STI was so close to being eradicated just a decade ago it has made a recent comeback. Any ideas on what this is?


First of all What is syphilis? Syphilis is a highly contagious STI caused by a bacteria named Treponema pallidum. Syphilis is spread by direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Syphilis can also be spread from a mother to her unborn baby. There are four stages of syphilis (primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary). Each stage has different signs and symptoms.

Syphilis was very common and dangerous before the creation of penicillin in the 1940s. Once penicillin was available syphilis cases saw a huge drop. There was a 95% reduction in new syphilis cases between 1946 and 1955. While this was great, syphilis has not been eliminated entirely. 

In recent years a huge spike in syphilis cases has reemerged. According to data provided by CDC, in 2015 the rate of primary and secondary syphilis in the U.S. increased to 7.5 cases per 100,000. And in more recent years In the United States, more than 129,800 syphilis cases were recorded in 2019. This is double the amount to 5 years prior. 

How can I reduce my risk of getting syphilis? The only way to completely avoid STIs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If you are sexually active, make sure you and your partner get tested regularly and wear a condom. Thankfully syphilis is curable with the right antibiotics from your healthcare provider. Remember to always practice safe sex, get tested, and or treated if needed. 

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