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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 13, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 19
Syphilis increase continues in 2011 : New local education campaign launched to increase awareness and testing
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Syphilis increase continues in 2011 : New local education campaign launched to increase awareness and testing

Courtesy of Public Health - Seattle & King County

Syphilis cases continue to increase dramatically in King County. After reaching a 30-year high in syphilis cases in 2010, the period of January through March of 2011 has seen 101 cases of syphilis - about twice as many as during the first three months of 2010.

This week, Public Health - Seattle & King County is launching a new syphilis education campaign focusing on men who have sex with men, the highest-risk population. In 2011, similar to 2010, about 90% of the syphilis cases have been among men who have sex with men.

The new education campaign aims to increase awareness about syphilis, promote recognition of symptoms, and encourage testing and prompt treatment. The campaign also highlights the risks and efficiency of transmission via oral sex. The campaign will be featured in media and venues that target Gay and Bisexual men.

'We are making a call to action to our community. We urge men who have sex with men to use condoms to test for STDs often, and to immediately seek medical attention if they develop a sore in their mouths or genital area or any kind of new rash,' said Dr. Matthew Golden, director of the Public Health- Seattle & King County HIV/STD Program.

Public Health officials do not fully understand what is causing the upswing in cases, but are actively working to investigate possible causes, increase syphilis testing, speed up treatment, and improve partner notification. Rates of syphilis in Gay and Bisexual men also appear to be increasing in other areas of the U.S.

Syphilis causes a broad range of symptoms that can make it hard to diagnose, particularly for providers who don't see a lot of patients with syphilis. Importantly, syphilis is caused by a bacterial infection and is curable with antibiotics. Without treatment it can progress to vision loss, hearing loss, and other serious complications.

STD testing is available in primary care medical providers' offices, at Gay City Health Project, the King County STD Clinic, and other public health clinics.

For more information, please visit www.syphilisrising.com or the Public Health - Seattle & King County HIV/STD Program website at www.kingcounty.gov/health/std.

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