Erie Times-News (07.22.2013)
Pennsylvania’s Erie County Department of Health has reported six syphilis cases so far in July, which are the most cases reported in one month in at least 13 years. Physicians and health officials are concerned with the increase because syphilis is one of the more serious STDs and can lead to life-threatening complications and, if left untreated, death. Brian Stark, D.O., a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Hamot family physician, also noted that "Another concern is that syphilis is often a co-infection with HIV. Locally, we have seen a steady HIV infection rate, and there's a concern that this means that rate could also increase." Syphilis can be easily treated with only one dose of injected antibiotics in its primary stage, but the disease must first be diagnosed. People with STDs often are reluctant to see their family doctor due to embarrassment, and may ignore syphilis's initial symptoms. Stark stated that the best way to avoid getting syphilis was to follow a few basic rules. "Good old-fashioned abstinence is best. But certainly use protection, know your sexual partners, and if you have any concerns that you might have an STD, get tested."