''Syphilis Epidemic'': Cases Of Sexually Transmitted Disease Shoot Up In US

Rates of syphilis have been rising for years, compounded by a drug shortage.

Cases of the sexually transmitted disease Syphilis have soared to their highest level in more than seven decades in the US. According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases increased by nearly 80% to more than 207,000 between 2018 and 2022.

In 2022, 3,755 cases of babies born with syphilis in the U.S. were reported, which reflects an alarming 937% increase in the past decade, the CDC said.

”The syphilis crisis in our country is unacceptable. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to addressing this urgent issue and using all available means to eliminate disparities in our healthcare system. These actions we are taking will help ensure we are improving outcomes for birthing parents and newborns. We must prevent more deaths caused by congenital syphilis, an entirely preventable disease,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a press release.

Notably, more than 170,000 syphilis cases were reported back in 1951, but the number dropped dramatically after the widespread availability of antibiotics. However, their numbers have risen again over the past two decades. Doctors are now hoping to reverse this epidemic. 

Experts noted two major reasons for the rise in cases. Dr. Nima Majlesi told the New York Post that people nowadays are using condoms less and less frequently. Secondly, he said that syphilis has become so uncommon in recent decades that it now often goes unrecognized, even by doctors, in its early stages. The rise has also been compounded by a shortage of penicillin.

Notably, Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. The disease starts as a sore that’s often painless and typically appears on the genitals, rectum, or mouth. Syphilis spreads from person to person through direct contact with these sores. 

It is difficult to diagnose Syphilis as it develops in four stages. The most common way of testing for syphilis is through a simple blood test. Early syphilis can be cured, sometimes with a single shot of medicine called penicillin. 

However, if untreated, syphilis can seriously damage the heart and brain and can cause blindness, deafness, and paralysis. When transmitted during pregnancy, it can cause miscarriage, lifelong medical issues, and infant death.

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