April is STD Awareness Month CDC focuses on syphilis resurgence
Las Vegas — Syphilis was nearly eliminated in the United States as recently as the early 2000s; it is back and thriving with increases in rates among women, men, newborns, among all age groups, regions, and nearly every race and ethnicity nationwide. April is STD Awareness Month and this year’s focus is this syphilis resurgence and the importance of testing and treatment. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) STD Awareness Month Syphilis Strikes Back page for more information about this year’s theme.
In Clark County, there were 681 early syphilis cases reported in 2015 and 828 in 2016. In February 2016, the Health District reported a 128 percent increase in reported early syphilis cases, also referred to as infectious syphilis, since 2012. Nevada is second only to the State of California in the highest rates of syphilis in the Western United States. The Health District encourages testing and advises physicians to discuss their patients’ sexual histories. Testing is the only way to ascertain whether or not someone is infected. As part of National STD Awareness Month, the Southern Nevada Health District is encouraging everyone to get tested and get the facts about sexually transmitted diseases. For more information, visit the Sexual Health Clinic webpage.
Across the country, CDC reported a total of 23,872 cases of primary/secondary syphilis in 2015 or 7.5 cases per 100,000. The CDC’s rate represented a 19 percent increase over 2014 and a 66 percent increase compared with 2011 with an infection rate of 4.5 cases per 100,000. For more information, visit the CDC's 2015 STD Statistics & Surveillance webpage.
Young men who have sex with men continue to have the highest rates of infection; however increases in women are of particular concern due the ability to pass the infection to their newborns increasing the rates of congenital syphilis.
Most STDs can be easily treated and cured; HIV is not curable but is treatable. The Health District’s Sexual Health Clinic provides testing, treatment, exams, referrals, and counseling for $40; HIV testing is also available. All visits are confidential.
The CDC also recommends the following:
All adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV.
Annual Chlamydia screening of all sexually active women younger than 25 years, as well as older women with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection.
Annual gonorrhea screening for all sexually active women younger than 25 years, as well as older women with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection.
Syphilis, HIV, Chlamydia, and hepatitis B screening for all pregnant women, and gonorrhea screening for at-risk pregnant women starting early in pregnancy, with repeat testing as needed, to protect the health of mothers and their infants.
Screening at least once a year for syphilis, Chlamydia, and gonorrhea for all sexually active gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM who have multiple or anonymous partners should be screened more frequently for STDs (e.g., at 3-to-6 month intervals).
Anyone who has unsafe sex or shares injection drug equipment should be tested for HIV at least once a year. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).
The Southern Nevada Health District encourages everyone to discuss their sexual histories with their intimate partners and with their health care providers. While the rates of HIV and STDs are not as high in adults over the age of 50, they are still at risk for infection if they do not use safer sexual practices and condoms every time.
Untreated STDs can have long-term consequences. Untreated gonorrhea and Chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease in women, which can cause infertility. Each year, STDs cause at least 24,000 women in the United States to become infertile. STDs increase the risk of HIV transmission for men and women.
The Southern Nevada Health District offers syphilis and STD testing and treatment at its Sexual Health Clinic at 280 S. Decatur, Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Free syphilis and HIV screenings are available Monday – Thursday from 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. at The Center located at 401 S. Maryland Parkway, call (702) 733-9800 for more information.