Michigan: Syphilis Outbreaks Highlight Lack of Funds for Testing, Prevention
May 18, 2010
Syphilis cases are up in Oakland, Ingham, and Kent counties, and advocates and health officials say continued state budget cuts could endanger public health.
Kent County has logged 11 syphilis cases since Jan. 1. Though officials there have not declared an outbreak, cases have been on the increase.
Statewide, 396 syphilis infections were reported in 2009 -- nearly 25 percent more than the 301 cases recorded in 2008.
Meanwhile, Michigan has steadily decreased the amount of money it makes available to local health departments for providing services such as STD diagnosis, treatment, and control. The state cut $2.7 million in these funds from the last budget cycle, and Gov. Jennifer Granholm's executive budget called for another 7.7 percent cut in funding this year.
"In light of the numbers [of syphilis cases and co-infections with HIV], it does not bode well that we are cutting the funds in public health that are there to prevent these things," said Judy Putnam, communications director for the Michigan League for Human Services.
04.29.2010; Todd A. Heywood