Nearly a quarter of syphilis cases in the U.S. were diagnosed in women in 2022, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday, in a sign that the nation is facing an “alarming” epidemic is increasingly spreading among heterosexual couples.
The number of syphilis cases reported among women increased by 19.5% in 2022. In total there were 14,652 cases of primary and secondary syphilis first two stages of the disease reported in women, accounting for about a quarter of the 59,016 cases nationwide. In 2018, only 14% of syphilis cases were reported in women.
According to the CDC, men who have sex with men continue to make up a disproportionate share of cases.
A worsening syphilis epidemic
Health authorities have been warning for years about the worsening syphilis epidemic in the country. The CDC’s final numbers for 2022 are the highest number diagnosed nationwide since the 1950s.
While tens of thousands of syphilis cases and deaths This was reported earlier In the 1940s, the introduction of penicillin led to a sharp decline in disease rates every year over the last century.
Cases nationally last peaked in the 1990s, before a years-long decline that health officials said was likely due to changes in sexual behavior caused by the HIV epidemic.
“Control of syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) requires robust public health systems and workforces, as well as prevention strategies tailored to the specific needs of affected communities. There are no shortcuts to syphilis control,” says Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Tuberculosis Prevention, said in an emailed statement.
Syphilis rates have increased every year since 2011 and remain disproportionately high, particularly among Black and Native American populations.
Mermin said diagnostic and treatment efforts will be improved and efforts to curb other factors such as drug abuse will be doubled…