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.
HIV/AIDS advocacy groups protest ruling in case regarding HIV-positive man, saliva

HIV/AIDS advocacy groups protest ruling in case regarding HIV-positive man, saliva

HIV/AIDS cases increasing among sex workers in Uganda

HIV/AIDS cases increasing among sex workers in Uganda

HIV on the rise in Germany

HIV on the rise in Germany

New understanding of how some bacteria survive antibiotic treatment

New understanding of how some bacteria survive antibiotic treatment

Prenatal syphilis screening rates: Are they being accurately reported?

Prenatal syphilis screening rates: Are they being accurately reported?

Lyme disease - a tough nut to crack!

Lyme disease - a tough nut to crack!

New method for rapid screening large numbers of antigens

New method for rapid screening large numbers of antigens

Illicit drug use and risky sex fueling rise in syphilis

Illicit drug use and risky sex fueling rise in syphilis

A quarter of teenage girls in the U.S. have a sex-related disease

A quarter of teenage girls in the U.S. have a sex-related disease

Stark warning about HIV in Australia

Stark warning about HIV in Australia

Researchers seek trial participants for experimental HIV vaccine called PENNVAX-B

Researchers seek trial participants for experimental HIV vaccine called PENNVAX-B

Trust between doctors and patients is culprit in efforts to cross racial divide in medical research

Trust between doctors and patients is culprit in efforts to cross racial divide in medical research

Columbus brought syphilis to Europe

Columbus brought syphilis to Europe

MRSA spike among gay men: More effective prevention needed for MRSA, HIV and other STDs

MRSA spike among gay men: More effective prevention needed for MRSA, HIV and other STDs

New superbug puts gay men at risk

New superbug puts gay men at risk

Experts in Britain say give away free condoms in pubs, clubs and taxis

Experts in Britain say give away free condoms in pubs, clubs and taxis

Male circumcision

Male circumcision

New challenges for diagnosis of bacterial STIs

New challenges for diagnosis of bacterial STIs

Hidden epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S.

Hidden epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S.

Baltimore Sun series examines link between commercial sex work, HIV transmission in Baltimore

Baltimore Sun series examines link between commercial sex work, HIV transmission in Baltimore