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U.S. News

Texas: Dallas Doctors See More Syphilis

August 22, 2006

During the first six months of 2006 in Dallas County, 113 people were treated for primary or secondary syphilis, the most infectious stages of the disease. The number of cases for all 2005 was 170.

Statewide, 514 cases were reported through June, compared to 879 cases last year. "It is somewhat worrisome that we are seeing an increase," said Dr. Steven Wilson, director of the STD division at Dallas County Health and Human Services.

Seven years ago, with syphilis rates reaching an all-time low, public health officials launched a nationwide campaign to wipe it out. In Dallas County, only 97 people were treated for syphilis in 2000.

Although concerned about the new figures, Wilson and others caution against attributing too much significance to six months of data. The rise in cases may reflect an increase in awareness and screening thanks to the elimination campaign's messages, or it could be a function of local population increases.

Wilson said although syphilis is generally found among men who have sex with men, the recent Dallas trends suggest increases among heterosexuals. He also noted a younger demographic is involved, with about 30 percent of total cases in men and women younger than 25.

Scientists do not fully understand why syphilis is a greater problem in urban areas and among black men; however, this racial gap is narrowing as cases fall among black men and increase among whites.

Nationally, San Francisco has the highest reported rate of syphilis, followed by Atlanta, Baltimore, New Orleans and St. Louis. In 2004, Dallas ranked number eight.

Back to other news for August 22, 2006

Adapted from:
Dallas Morning News
08.17.06; Laura Beil

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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.
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