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.
Rates of sexually transmitted infections in Allegheny County, Pa., disproportionately high among blacks, officials say

Rates of sexually transmitted infections in Allegheny County, Pa., disproportionately high among blacks, officials say

DNA biosynthesis discovery could lead to better antibiotics

DNA biosynthesis discovery could lead to better antibiotics

Discovery of new chemical reaction for DNA production in bacteria and viruses

Discovery of new chemical reaction for DNA production in bacteria and viruses

Male circumcision reduces men's risk of contracting HPV, herpes, study says

Male circumcision reduces men's risk of contracting HPV, herpes, study says

Male circumcision reduces men's risk of contracting HPV, herpes, study says

Male circumcision reduces men's risk of contracting HPV, herpes, study says

Illinois County reports increased STI testing demand

Illinois County reports increased STI testing demand

Male circumcision reduces risk of herpes simplex virus type 2 and human papillomavirus

Male circumcision reduces risk of herpes simplex virus type 2 and human papillomavirus

Health official releases HIV, STI data for Maryland County

Health official releases HIV, STI data for Maryland County

Discrimination against Jamaican HIV-positive MSM hinders efforts to seek health care

Discrimination against Jamaican HIV-positive MSM hinders efforts to seek health care

Distrust of medical research more common among African American parents

Distrust of medical research more common among African American parents

Rapid HIV testing in the emergency department boosts diagnoses, screening

Rapid HIV testing in the emergency department boosts diagnoses, screening

Worries over test for mad cow disease

Worries over test for mad cow disease

New York City report finds reduced HIV/AIDS-related deaths, increased condom distribution in FY 2008

New York City report finds reduced HIV/AIDS-related deaths, increased condom distribution in FY 2008

HIV rates in Australia up fifty percent in the past eight years

HIV rates in Australia up fifty percent in the past eight years

Working better with Aboriginal clients: addressing sexual health, HIV and hepatitis C

Working better with Aboriginal clients: addressing sexual health, HIV and hepatitis C

New study aims to help Latino HIV patients

New study aims to help Latino HIV patients

ShangRing - innovative circumcision device

ShangRing - innovative circumcision device

Russia considers ending mandatory HIV testing for foreigners entering country

Russia considers ending mandatory HIV testing for foreigners entering country

Neglected infectious diseases go untreated, undiagnosed in hundreds of thousands of low-income residents in the U.S.

Neglected infectious diseases go untreated, undiagnosed in hundreds of thousands of low-income residents in the U.S.

Washington, D.C., council member recommends eliminating HIV, syphilis test requirements for marriage licenses

Washington, D.C., council member recommends eliminating HIV, syphilis test requirements for marriage licenses