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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

PENNSYLVANIA: Syphilis Among Young Women on the Rise in


Philadelphia Inquirer (02.25.10) - Thursday, February 25,

The Philadelphia Department of Health on Wednesday issued an alert to health care providers prompted by a 360 percent increase in infectious syphilis among young women in the city last year.

In 2009, 218 cases were recorded in females, including 23 among those ages 15-29. That compares to 150 cases in 2008, including five in females in their prime childbearing years - a special concern because congenitally transmitted syphilis can cause mental retardation, physical deformities, and death. Four cases of congenital syphilis were logged in Philadelphia last year.

Females ages 15-40 who have had more than one sexual partner in the past year should be screened annually, the department release said.

Men who have sex with men (MSM) continue to account for the majority of Philadelphia's syphilis cases, including 69 percent of the 2009 total. The health department repeated its recommendation that sexually active MSM be screened for the infection every three to four months.

Dr. William R. Short, an infectious-disease expert at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, said providers and women need to take the new screening recommendation seriously, given the risk of congenital abnormalities caused by the STD.

**CORRECTION: On Feb. 25, the PNU summary of the Philadelphia Inquirer's article "Syphilis Among Young Women on the Rise in Philadelphia" incorrectly stated the number of cases recorded among females in the city. The case counts reported - 218 in 2009, and 150 in 2008 - were for all cases of primary and secondary syphilis in Philadelphia, not for cases among females only. Females represented eight cases in 2008 and 27 cases in 2009.

(Source: CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update - March 4, 2010)


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