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November 22nd, 2010
12:01 PM ET

Syphilis infections up; progress made on other STDs

A decade ago, the sexually transmitted disease syphilis was on the verge of elimination.  Today, a new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows a 39 percent increase in the disease from 2006 to 2009, with most new cases appearing in young black men.

“The majority of the increase is amongst men who have sex with men,” said Charlotte Kent, acting director of the CDC’s division of STD prevention.

The CDC called the increase a concerning new trend.

“We really need to promote screening and treatment amongst these young men,” Kent said. “Clearly discrimination and homophobia can act as barriers to health care seeking and availability, and that does add to some of the challenges of developing effective intervention.”

Poor access to health care because of poverty is also contributing to the trend.  The CDC recommends "that all sexually active men who have sex with men be tested every year for syphilis (as well as gonorrhea, and chlamydia, and HIV)."  The agency says it is working to implement its syphilis elimination plan, which includes partnering with gay and bisexual health organizations.

Monday’s report, which also reviewed new cases of the sexually transmitted diseases chlamydia and gonorrhea, revealed some “signs of progress.”

Syphilis in women declined 7 percent last year. The rate of the disease had been on the upswing since 2004.

Fewer Americans contracted gonorrhea in 2009. The disease is now at the lowest level on record, according to the CDC.

Although there was still a high burden of chlamydia in the country, Kent said the disease was “stable.” Cases of chlamydia increased three percent in 2009.  The CDC said the increase was not evidence of more disease, but rather a reflection of more people being screened for chlamydia.

Left untreated, syphilis can damage the brain, heart and other organs.  "Untreated syphilis in pregnant women results in infant death in up to 40 percent of cases," according to the CDC.

Untreated gonorrhea and chlamydia can lead to infertility.  "Each year STDs cause an estimated 24,000 women in the U.S. to become infertile," Kent said. "Future fertility is one of the strongest motivators to get screened and seek treatment."

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Filed under: CDC • Sex

soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. BadRequest

    Wow, Catholics must feel like Christian Scientists with appendicitis on this one.

    November 22, 2010 at 16:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Dave

    HOOOOORAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 22, 2010 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. yomama

    Oldsingleguy.... I wonder how you've managed to get so old and yet stay single, hmmmmm... I wonder if it could be something more than just an ugly heart.

    November 22, 2010 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. 2Smart2BU

    Syphilis is chancrelicious.

    November 22, 2010 at 17:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. John

    your an idiot, depending on what part of the US you live in this STD is carried by all races not blacks and mexicans! Lol

    November 22, 2010 at 17:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ME

      If you are going to make accusations of idiocy, you should let us know to whom you are speaking and use the correct spelling of "you're."

      November 22, 2010 at 19:52 | Report abuse |
    • Lioness

      CNN erased the original comment. Hence, it was once obvious who he was replying to, but now we'll never know.

      November 23, 2010 at 09:05 | Report abuse |
  6. X

    This just in! Americans are STILL too stupid to use condoms!

    November 22, 2010 at 17:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Richard

      GAYS have been backsliding on condom use for a few years, because they believe AIDS drugs now prevent death. They'd be wrong about that.

      November 23, 2010 at 07:09 | Report abuse |
  7. Willie12345

    We're importing it from Mexico thanks to Janet N.

    November 22, 2010 at 18:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • me

      You are a complete bigoted idiot!

      November 22, 2010 at 22:57 | Report abuse |
    • something2say

      racist 2.

      November 23, 2010 at 00:11 | Report abuse |
    • Adi

      Google .Court Trials Unnerve HIV Propagandists Florida prosecutors teraetenhd Torres with decades in prison unless she accepted their plea deal. But when asked to prove the reliability of HIV testing, prosecutors abruptly reduced their offer of 15 years in state prison to five days of unsupervised probation.Several months later, Magdalena Mays was arrested on similar charges. But like the Torres case, prosecutors dropped their HIV-related complaint against her .

      December 17, 2012 at 09:38 | Report abuse |
  8. Sherri

    Gay males leading the way yet again in CDC reports.

    November 22, 2010 at 18:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • crump

      Go getters!

      November 22, 2010 at 19:11 | Report abuse |
  9. ME

    Syphilis causes brain damage when left untreated. That certainly explains the corresponding rise in idiotic comments on CNN.com.

    November 22, 2010 at 19:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lioness

      No kidding, and it's even worse on the Yahoo news stories. Don't make the mistake of going there!

      November 23, 2010 at 09:04 | Report abuse |
  10. borisjimbo

    Thank you, abstinence only education.

    November 23, 2010 at 00:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Lioness

    Question for those who have dealt with this themselves: I have always wondered why so few people have their partners get tested, or why they don't use protection if they don't. Those who are parents, have you TRULY talked to your children over and over about using protection, or do you assume their school will do it?

    November 23, 2010 at 09:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. George Harrison

    hi there.. good blog, interesting posts, nice layout, good content management. i appreciate this blog Syphilis infections up; progress made on other STDs – The Chart – CNN.com Blogs. what plug ins do you use for your blog. do you use wordpress blogs or some thing else. i would want to know. i've a blog which doesn't appear good at all and its a pain to work with it. are you on facebook or twitter? i would like to get to know you as well as learn from you. Please reply.

    May 2, 2011 at 10:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. haipham

    imformation good
    i like this post!!
    thank admin
    i think people can see website
    http://www.myhealth911.com/2011/10/what-is-syphilis/

    December 10, 2011 at 23:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Alphonse Schachter

    Syphilis is easy to cure in its early stages. Signs and symptoms of syphilis include a firm, round, small, and painless sore on the genitals, anus, or mouth, or a rash on the body, especially on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet.".'-

    See ya soon <http://healthmedicine.co/

    July 6, 2013 at 01:35 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.