Los Angeles-based, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), sent informational mailers about the dramatic increase of syphilis in Broward County during the past decade or so, to some 22,000 residents to encourage people to get tested for the very treatable sexually transmitted infection (STI), according to a Fort Mills Times report Sept. 23.
The mailer notes several staggering statistics about syphilis in Broward County to include: Syphilis cases in Broward County have increased by 400 percent since 2000, since 2005, the rates in Broward are two-times that of the rest of the state of Florida and that 19 million Americans are infected with STIs annually, and only half are aware they are infected.
In addition, the mailer encourages people to get tested for syphilis, noting it is 100 percent treatable.
Other data about syphilis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include the southern region of the U.S. accounted for 44.1 percent of primary and secondary syphilis (P&S) in 2011 and Florida had the 5th highest incidence rate for P&S of 6.7 per 100,000 among all the states in 2011 and accounted for 9.0 percent of P&S that year.
Among counties and independent cities of the U.S. ranked by number of cases reported in 2011, Broward County ranked 10th highest with 235 cases of P&S and an incidence rate of 13.4 cases per 100,000.
The mailer has resulted in a dramatic increase in patients seeking free testing and treatment at AHF’s new local STD clinic in Fort Lauderdale, according to the Fort Mills Times report.
“While Broward County has the highest rate of syphilis in the state of Florida, the good news is that syphilis is a curable disease—one best caught and treated early,” said Albert Ruiz, Director, Public Health Division for AHF and who oversees AHF’s Wellness Programs. “We encourage any sexually active individual who feels that they may be at risk to come in and get tested, and, if necessary treated.”
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacterium, Treponema pallidum. The most common way to get syphilis is by having sexual contact (oral, genital or anal) with an infected person. The secondary lesions are also infective and contact with them could transmit the bacteria. It can also be transmitted from an infected mother to her baby (congenital transmission). It can also be transmitted through blood transfusion, though extremely rare because of testing of donors.
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