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U.S. News

New York: Cornell University, County Warn of Jump in Syphilis Cases

April 11, 2008

In the past 12 months, there have been nine syphilis cases in Tompkins County, and at least three of the nine cases were students, faculty or staff members of Cornell University, health officials said. Between 2003 and 2006, the county averaged slightly more than one new case annually, according to the state Department of Health.

"The nine cases are in the county, and we don't see this as a problem that's unique to Cornell any more than it's unique to Tompkins County," said Sharon Dittman, associate director for community relations for the university's Gannett Health Services. "But because we have a responsibility not only to the people who come to us but to our campus community as a whole, we really felt it was important to get out with this information."

Cornell sent an e-mail about the recent upsurge in cases to the entire university community on April 3.

Two cases diagnosed between February and March were men who have sex with men, including one co-infected with HIV, according to a county report. Both cases used Internet sites to arrange for sex with multiple, anonymous partners. That has made contact tracing of partners more difficult, as identities are often only screen names.

There were 302 syphilis reports statewide last year, a 20 percent increase from 2006, when there were 252 cases, state figures show. "The department attributes the rise in cases to Internet-based social networking," said Jeffrey Hammond, a spokesperson for the state Department of Health.

In partnership with the state, Cornell is offering free syphilis testing to students, staff and faculty. For information, telephone 607-255-5155. County residents can get free HIV and syphilis tests at Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes, 607-273-1513.

Back to other news for April 2008

Adapted from:
Ithaca Journal
04.04.2008; Topher Sanders

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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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