Around 1000% jump in Syphilis in the US in past decade- numbers still on the rise, warns CDC

Visual Representation for Syphilis Virus | Credits: Google Images
Visual Representation for Syphilis Virus | Credits: Google Images

United States: The number of syphilis cases is on the rise, increased by more than 80%, 207,000 between 2018 and 2022, as per the latest data published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The increase has been seen in all age groups, not excluding newborns, and encompassing all regions of the country. Among babies, 3,755 cases were reported born with Syphilis in the United States. According to the CDC, there has been a shocking 937% jump reported in the past decade!

Who else is most affected by Syphilis?

The racial and ethnic minorities in the US are most affected due to “long-standing social inequities that often lead to health inequalities,” as stated by the CDC report.

CDC said various reasons could be attributed to this disproportionate increase, which includes high cases of substance overdose linked with indulgence in risky sexual behavior, such as a decrease in sexually transmitted infections (STI) services at the local and state level, existing social and economic conditions and lesser usage of a condom.

According to the CDC, “Because STIs often do not show symptoms, and screening is necessary for timely diagnosis and treatment, changes in access to sexual health care can affect the number of infections diagnosed and reported.”

Laura Bachmann, the acting director of the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, said in an interview that the ongoing stigma around STIs contributes to keeping people away from looking for care and “buries the truth that all people deserve quality sexual health care” reported.

She further added, “It also can cause issues at the provider level when it comes to talking with people about these issues.”

Call for an urgent health expert intervention by the CDC!

The gathered stats call for an urgent intervention by public health officials to make preventive disease strategies and further plans for action, as per the CDC.

Campus of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Credits: Reuters

As per Bachmann, “Some people face tremendous barriers to STI prevention and health services,” and “So, the most important work is often outside the clinic, whether it be reaching out to communities with testing, interviewing patients to offer services to their partners, or delivering treatment directly to someone.”

Moreover, Bachmann said there is a requirement for more innovation around diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

According to Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, “In the United States, syphilis was close to elimination in the 1990s, so we know it’s possible to reverse this epidemic,” reported.

He further mentioned, “I have hope for innovative prevention tools – such as a pill after sex that prevents STIs and better tests for Syphilis – but they will only be successful if they reach the people who will benefit. And that is going to require coordinated and sustained efforts at the federal, state, and local levels.”

A federal task force was also established last year by the US Department of Health and Human Services to address the issue.

Admiral Rachel Levine, assistant secretary for health and chair of the National Syphilis and Congenital Syphilis Syndemic Federal Task Force, made a statement, “Addressing the resurgence of syphilis and congenital syphilis requires a concerted effort.”

He continued further, “We can collectively work towards reducing the incidence of syphilis and its devastating consequences, and we will turn the tide on the syphilis epidemic,” reported.

What hurdles do the authorities face?

According to Elizabeth Finley, the director of communications at the National Coalition of STD Directors, it becomes difficult for communities to properly follow the guidelines of government officials due to a shortage in funding.

The shortage of Bicillin, which is an antibiotic used for treating Syphilis, has been seen in the past year. Moreover, the state’s ability to prevent STDs has been affected by the reduction in its funding for that purpose.

Finley said, “The 2022 data is devastating to see, but it’s already a year old,” and due to this, “we have every reason to believe that the 2023 numbers will be much worse.”

According to the CDC’s report mentioning other sexually transmitted infections, it said: “reported gonorrhea cases declined for the first time in at least a decade while reported chlamydia cases were level.”

In 2022, more than 2.5 million cases of Syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia were reported.

The serious problems that Syphilis can cause without treatment are damage to the heart and brain; it can also lead to deafness, blindness, and paralysis.

It can also lead to miscarriage, infant death, and lifelong medical issues in case of transmission during pregnancy.

According to the experts, Syphilis is treatable with the right antibiotics provided at the right time.