CDC Aims to Eradicate
Syphilis - US Rates At All Time Low
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) -- Syphilis cases are at an all time low in the US and the time is ripe for the eradication of this sexually transmitted disease (STD), according to Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Half of syphilis cases are now reported by only 1% of counties in the US.
"We have the rare opportunity to add syphilis next to malaria and cholera on the short list of diseases we have beaten in the United States,'' said Koplan in a statement issued by they CDC. "But if we don't take the opportunity now, we will lose our chance.''
Syphilis eradication will become a key priority for the CDC, Koplan is scheduled to announce at the 1998 National STD Prevention Conference, set to begin Monday in Dallas, Texas.
According to the CDC's new report on STD prevalence, ''Tracking the Hidden Epidemics: Trends in the STD Epidemics in the United States,'' rates of syphilis and gonorrhea have reached all-time lows in the US.
However, the prevalence of gonorrhea (123 cases per 100,000) "remains well above the goal for the nation by the year 2000 (100 per 100,000),'' according to the report. And other STDs such as chlamydia, herpes and human papillomavirus remain widespread problems in the US.
Expanding chlamydia detection and treatment programs is also a high priority in the US, according to Dr. Judith Wasserheit of the CDC. A substantial reduction in chlamydia rates could be produced simply by expanding existing chlamydia treatment and prevention programs, according to the CDC. However, such programs reach only 50% of women at risk in 20 states, and less than 15% in 30 states.
"It is unconscionable that diseases that can be cured with one dose of antibiotics continue to exact such a tremendous toll on the nation,'' Wasserheit said. "We simply must reach people with the prevention, screening, and treatment needed to reduce this toll.''
The CDC report card identifies, in alphabetical order, Atlanta, Baltimore, Birmingham, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Newark, New Orleans, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Richmond, St. Louis and Washington DC as the US cities with the highest rates of both gonorrhea and syphilis in 1997.
In the same year, Arkansas, South Carolina, Mississippi, North Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Georgia, Illinois and Florida top the list of states for chlamydia rates among young women 15 to 24 years of age.