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U.S. News

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.

Oakland County is experiencing an outbreak of syphilis, with 16 early/latent stage infections reported since Jan. 1. The county reported 32 cases in all of 2009. All the new cases are among men who have sex with men (MSM), including seven who are HIV-positive, six HIV-negative and three of unknown HIV status.

In Ingham County, officials say there have been 10 cases of early/latent syphilis since Jan. 1. Of those, four were HIV-positive. According to officials, 90 percent of the cases are in MSM. Last year, Ingham County declared a syphilis outbreak and eventually logged a total of 17 primary or secondary infections.

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.

Back to other news for May 2010

Adapted from:
Michigan Messenger
04.29.2010; Todd A. Heywood

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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 News and Research on Syphilis in Midwestern U.S. States