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Local and Community News

Syphilis More Than Doubles in New York City

March 7, 2002

Reported cases of syphilis more than doubled in New York City from 2000 to 2001, mostly among men. This prompts concern of a possible resurgence of the HIV epidemic, according to health officials at the National STD Prevention Conference in San Diego.

Nationwide, syphilis cases have dropped, reaching an all-time low of 5,979 infections in 2000. However, several cities have reported syphilis outbreaks among gay males, including New York, Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami.

Officials from the New York City Department of Health presented the preliminary syphilis findings yesterday. Susan Blank, assistant commissioner of the STD Control Program, said the syphilis outbreak involves men having sex with men, many of whom also are infected with HIV. "In response to this trend, the Health Department has initiated a number of activities to interrupt syphilis transmission," Blank said.

One study already underway is at the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in the Chelsea section of NYC. Dr. Dawn Harbatkin, medical director, said the health department is developing a control group of about 100 gay men to gain insight on how to prevent the disease. "Negotiating a sexual encounter is a complicated process. And the numbers show that the prevention messages aren't working," Harbatkin said. "We have to go back to the drawing board and start over."


Back to other CDC news for March 7, 2002

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Newsday (New York City)
03.07.02; Margaret Ramirez

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Syphilis -- a Dreadful Disease on the Move
Syphilis Fact Sheet
Basic Questions and Answers About Syphilis and Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM)
More Statistics on Syphilis in Northeastern U.S. States