Syphilis is a bacterial infection spread through oral, vaginal and anal sex. It is treatable and curable with antibiotics. Syphilis causes sores that are usually painless but can spread the bacterium to other people. It can also be passed from an infected pregnant woman to her fetus, risking miscarriage, stillbirth or birth deformities.
The second phase of the disease can cause a skin rash, swollen lymph nodes and fever. Final stages of the disease can cause permanent neurological damage, blindness or death Syphilis can manifest differently among patients, but frequently shows up for a few weeks as lesions or rashes.That can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or birth deformities.
Current Syphilis Epidemic
Since 2000, the current syphilis epidemic was most prevalent among men having sex with men. Starting in 2013, public health officials began seeing an alarming jump in the number of women contracting syphilis; which is particularly disturbing considering the deadly effects of congenital syphilis;when the disease is passing from a pregnant woman to her fetus.
In the digital age, fighting syphilis is much harder for public health res-ponders, said Rebekah Horowitz; a senior program analyst on HIV, STD s and viral hepatitis at the National Association of County and City Health Officials. Compared with urban hubs; rural populations tend to have less access to public health resources; less experience with syphilis and less willingness to address it because of socially conservative views toward homosexuality and non marital sex.
Women Contracting Syphilis
Among those rising numbers of women contracting syphilis and the men who were their partners; self-reported use of methamphetamine; heroin or other intravenous drugs continues to grow, per the CDC. Public health officials suggest that increased drug use which can result in a pattern of risky sex or trading sex for drugs.
Syphilis is back in part because of increasing drug use, but health officials are losing the fight because of a combination of cuts in national and state health funding and crumbling public health infrastructure. Almost half of those are outside the major population centers and typical STD hot spots of Kansas City; St. Louis and its adjacent county. Syphilis cases surged at least eight fold during that period in the rest of the state.
Back in 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a plan to eradicate the sexually transmitted disease that totaled over 35,000 cases nationwide that year. While syphilis can cause permanent neurological damage; blindness or even death, it is both treatable and curable.