Texas: Houston Targets Syphilis Increase
August 31, 2007
Faced with a steady increase in syphilis cases over the past six years, Houston's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will launch a month-long awareness campaign starting Sept. 1.
After seeing a nearly 50 percent jump on new cases over 2005 -- bringing the 2006 total to 377 -- officials say new infections this year are rising at an even higher rate. In Houston and Harris County, 230 cases were reported from January through June, DHHS said. "We're on target to more than double our number of cases from last year to this year," said Marlene McNeese-Ward, Chief of DHHS' Division of HIV/STD and Viral Hepatitis Prevention.
In an awareness campaign, officials will target the areas where most cases have been reported, said McNeese-Ward. "We're really looking at Acres Homes especially, and Sunnyside." However, there are few ZIP codes where there are not any cases, she said.
During September, two city STD clinics will extend their hours. In addition, the department will deploy its mobile screening unit to predominantly affected neighborhoods on the city's south and north sides and other areas, including Montrose, where high rates have been reported.
According to DHHS and CDC, much of the increase is among men who have sex with men (MSM). But, in recent years, most new cases have shifted from white MSM to Hispanic and black MSM. CDC attributes the rise in syphilis to decreased use of condoms, substance abuse, use of the Internet to find sex partners, and HIV/AIDS treatment optimism.
08.29.2007; Alexis Grant
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.