News 4 KRND-DT Reno (01.06.2014)
Aids Weekly Plus
Mynews4.com and KRNV reported that Washoe County, Nev., recorded a 32-case outbreak of primary syphilis in 2013, with highest incidence occurring among men who had sex with men (MSM). Jennifer Howell, sexual health program coordinator at the Washoe County Health Department, noted that more than 50 percent of Washoe County MSM diagnosed with syphilis also had HIV. She explained that people with syphilis skin lesions and sores (breaks in the skin) were three to five times more likely to acquire an HIV infection. Washoe County reported 20 new HIV infections in 2012 and 25 in 2013.
Howell described syphilis as a curable bacterial infection that had three stages. Primary syphilis could cause long-lasting, painless sores; secondary syphilis could produce “rashes and lesions” on the body and hands; tertiary-phase (latent) syphilis could cause blindness and damage the brain and nervous system.
Howell urged sexual partners to get tested, be honest about their sexual history, and use condoms to prevent STD outbreaks. Washoe County Health Department encouraged people with “unusual rashes or sores” and sexually active people to have STD testing. The health department clinic offered testing for walk-in clients or by appointment, with an income-based fee.