Syphilis News and Research

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Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. It has often been called “the great imitator” because so many of the signs and symptoms are indistinguishable from those of other diseases.

In the United States, health officials reported over 36,000 cases of syphilis in 2006, including 9,756 cases of primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis. In 2006, half of all P&S syphilis cases were reported from 20 counties and 2 cities; and most P&S syphilis cases occurred in persons 20 to 39 years of age. The incidence of P&S syphilis was highest in women 20 to 24 years of age and in men 35 to 39 years of age. Reported cases of congenital syphilis in newborns increased from 2005 to 2006, with 339 new cases reported in 2005 compared to 349 cases in 2006.

Between 2005 and 2006, the number of reported P&S syphilis cases increased 11.8 percent. P&S rates have increased in males each year between 2000 and 2006 from 2.6 to 5.7 and among females between 2004 and 2006. In 2006, 64% of the reported P&S syphilis cases were among men who have sex with men (MSM).

Syphilis is passed from person to person through direct contact with a syphilis sore. Sores occur mainly on the external genitals, vagina, anus, or in the rectum. Sores also can occur on the lips and in the mouth. Transmission of the organism occurs during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Pregnant women with the disease can pass it to the babies they are carrying. Syphilis cannot be spread through contact with toilet seats, doorknobs, swimming pools, hot tubs, bathtubs, shared clothing, or eating utensils.
Presidential panel reveals new details of 1940s syphilis experiments in Guatemala

Presidential panel reveals new details of 1940s syphilis experiments in Guatemala

Vampire bat causes rabies

Vampire bat causes rabies

Field trials of rapid, inexpensive and portable HIV test show success, researchers report

Field trials of rapid, inexpensive and portable HIV test show success, researchers report

New device can produce blood-based diagnostic results in minutes

New device can produce blood-based diagnostic results in minutes

Viewpoints: Pessimism on partisan debt dealings; supporting community clinics; 'mystery shopper' should go forward

Viewpoints: Pessimism on partisan debt dealings; supporting community clinics; 'mystery shopper' should go forward

NAACP, AHF offer free HIV and STD testing at Los Angeles Convention Center

NAACP, AHF offer free HIV and STD testing at Los Angeles Convention Center

Circumcision subjected to vote this November in San Francisco

Circumcision subjected to vote this November in San Francisco

Simple and cheap Syphilis test could save the lives of millions of babies

Simple and cheap Syphilis test could save the lives of millions of babies

Nearly all 2.6 million stillbirths worldwide occur in low-, middle-income countries, Lancet series says

Nearly all 2.6 million stillbirths worldwide occur in low-, middle-income countries, Lancet series says

Gay men in Britain allowed to give blood after a decade of celibacy: Trust system

Gay men in Britain allowed to give blood after a decade of celibacy: Trust system

Longer looks: Best health policy picks from thought-provoking publications

Longer looks: Best health policy picks from thought-provoking publications

STD testing for elderly may be covered by Medicare

STD testing for elderly may be covered by Medicare

Erik Parens to speak on behavioral genetics at Presidential Commission meeting

Erik Parens to speak on behavioral genetics at Presidential Commission meeting

Lancet editorial highlights similarities between current health challenges, those from 1911

Lancet editorial highlights similarities between current health challenges, those from 1911

Young gay men taking risks - raising HIV transmission

Young gay men taking risks - raising HIV transmission

Researchers examine burden of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases in China

Researchers examine burden of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases in China

The state of sexually transmissible and blood-borne infections in Australia: the 2010 Surveillance Reports

The state of sexually transmissible and blood-borne infections in Australia: the 2010 Surveillance Reports

Reverby writes commentary for Bioethics Forum on syphilis study

Reverby writes commentary for Bioethics Forum on syphilis study

New book relates mercury in vaccines to autism

New book relates mercury in vaccines to autism

Safe sex campaign for over 50’s

Safe sex campaign for over 50’s