Category Archives: Health Alerts

New syphilis infections at an all-time high in Pennsylvania

From outbreaknewstoday.com

Pennsylvania state health officials are reporting increased amounts of sexually transmitted infections, in particular syphilis, prompting officials to encourage the public to take steps to decrease their risk.

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Pregnant women should be screened at first and third trimester because of the sharp increase in the number of babies born with the disease in the United States. Nationally, cases of congenital syphilis increased by 185 percent between 2014 and 2018. In 2019, five congenital syphilis cases were reported in the state of Pennsylvania, following seven cases reported in 2018. These reported cases of congenital syphilis in the state represented the highest number of cases in more than 25 years.Early syphilis in Pennsylvania is currently at the highest rate in more than 20 years. Over the last five years, early syphilis reported in women of child-bearing age (women aged 15 to 44) increased 114 percent, from 78 cases in 2015 to 167 cases in 2019.

“Sexually transmitted diseases are serious diseases that impact many Pennsylvanians each year,” Acting Secretary Beam said. “It is essential that all residents are aware of the risks and dangers associated with STDs. Many of these diseases can be easily diagnosed and treated, which is why we encourage all residents to talk to their doctor about getting tested so we can further prevent diseases and keep our residents healthy.”

Read the full article.

To find local testing in your area, you can search by zip code at https://gettested.cdc.gov/. Most testing locations are free.

Get a free HIV self-test kit delivered to your home

The Pennsylvania Department of Health, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Expanded HIV Testing Initiative (PEHTI) and the HIV Prevention and Care Project (HPCP), has introduced HIV Self-Testing (HST) for individuals who reside in Pennsylvania (excluding Philadelphia County). The goal of the getmyHIVtest.com program is to help people get tested who wouldn’t otherwise go to their doctor or to a testing clinic.  

Tests are available from the website getmyhivtest.com. Individuals are asked to read the information on the website and answer a few questions in order to receive an FDA-approved, OraQuick home HIV test kit mailed to their provided address. Support for clients who request and administer the HIV self-test is available through OraQuick and the HPCP, as noted on the website.   

Individuals who reside in Philadelphia County should visit PhillyKeepOnLoving.com to order the HIV Self-test kit and for additional information about testing from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.   

If you have any questions, please send an email to info@getmyHIVtest.com.  

How the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting another epidemic among teens: STDs | Expert Opinion

2020 marks the fifth consecutive year of increasing rates of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis in the U.S.

From The Philadelphia Inquirer

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While the eyes of the nation are on the coronavirus pandemic, another threat to public health has been steadily growing in the United States. We’ve been battling rising rates of sexually transmitted infections (STI) for the last several years. In fact, 2020 marks the fifth consecutive year of increasing rates of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis in the U.S., due in part to significant funding cuts to more than 50% of the nation’s public health STI programs. And now the COVID-19 pandemic has placed an even greater burden on our strained public health system and supply chains, shifting focus from one major public health issue to another.

We can’t risk losing one critical resource that will be essential to ending the STI epidemic — the availability of free and confidential STI testing for adolescents. Prior to the pandemic, national public health efforts were scaling up to improve STI and HIV testing, and quickly link youth to prevention services.  Rapid identification and treatment of STIs not only has public health benefits in terms of lowering transmission, but when left untreated, STIs increase the risk of infertility, severe pelvic infection, chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy and HIV transmission.

While accounting for 25% of the population, adolescents and young adults comprise over 50% of STIs in the U.S. each year. Black, Latinx, and LGBT youth face the greatest burden of infections and risk of complications. Fortunately, significant advances have been made over the last several decades to improve rates of STI and HIV testing among adolescents and young adults. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends HIV screening by the age of 16-18 years for all youth regardless of their sexual activity.

Read the full article.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea have increased among younger women, study finds

From the Philadelphia Inquirer

Rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea are increasing among women ages 18 to 30 in the United States, a recent study by Quest Diagnostics suggests.

The study, recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, analyzed more than 17 million laboratory samples taken between 2010 and 2017 from females ages 12 to 30. Researchers found that while there was a decline in cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea among adolescents ages 12 to 17, women of ages 25 to 30 experienced a 50% increase in positive test results. Women 18 to 24 had a 21% increase in positive test results over the period of the study.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual screenings for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among sexually active women under 25, said Harvey Kaufman, director of Quest’s Health Trends Research Program. For women 25 and older, the CDC recommends screenings only for those with specific risk factors, such as reporting that their sex partner may have a concurrent sex partner. Kaufman, a co-author of the study, said the findings suggest that sexual and contraceptive practices have changed since 2002, when the CDC guidelines were first published.

Kaufman pointed out that the CDC guidelines were largely influenced by a 1998 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found that the overall rate of chlamydia among female Army recruits was 9.2%. As a result, the authors of the study recommended a screening program for female recruits 25 and under.

Read the full article. 

STDs at an all-time high in the U.S.

From Healthline.com

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show 3 sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are on the rise in the United States — and have been for the past 5 years.

In 2018, the total number of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia cases reached an all-time high since the organization began tracking the infections back in 1991, according to the report the CDC published Tuesday.

Over 1.7 million cases of chlamydia were reported last year, a 3 percent increase from 2017.

About 580,000 cases of gonorrhea were reported, which marks a 5 percent increase, along with a 14 percent spike in syphilis.

The rise in STDs has many health experts concerned, as it could have massive implications on public health.

Infertility rates could rise, and the infections could continue to contribute to a range of health issues, including strokes, meningitis, dementia, cardiovascular complications, and neurological conditions.

The mother-to-child transmission of STDs, specifically congenital syphilis, is also worrisome, as it puts the pregnancy at a higher risk for miscarriage, stillbirth, and even lifelong physical and neurological issues.

As the CDC states, it’s time to put a greater focus on the country’s STD epidemic and better manage the spread of these infections.

“You have to have a multifaceted approach to really deal with this problem, and of course they’d like to start with education — people have to understand that safe sex is still very important even in the age of antibiotics and antiretroviral drugs,” Dr. Dean Winslow, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told Healthline.

See the full article on Healthline.com.

If you need to find local STD testing locations, send a message to us on Facebook.

Fighting HIV: Gaps in treatment, testing drive new infections

In a new report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday highlighted the gaps in access to treatment and testing resources that exists within the HIV care continuum. Those gaps have led to a halt in recent years to the progress made over the past two decades in reducing HIV infections.

An estimated 15% of people with HIV don’t know they have the virus, and that population accounted for 38% of all new infection, according to the study. Those who know their HIV status but are not receiving care make up 20% of people living with the virus but account for 43% of new infections.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said the epidemic could end over the next few years by expanding access to testing and consistent treatment.

CDC: Sharp increase in the number of babies born with syphilis in the United States

Recently, there has been a sharp increase in the number of babies born with syphilis in the United States. Protect your baby from congenital syphilis by getting tested for syphilis during your pregnancy.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

How common is CS?

After a steady decline from 2008–2012, data show a sharp increase in CS rates. In 2017, the number of CS cases was the highest it’s been since 1997.

Public health professionals across the country are very concerned about the growing number of congenital syphilis cases in the United States. It is important to make sure you get tested for syphilis during your pregnancy.

I’m pregnant. Do I need to get tested for syphilis?

Yes. All pregnant women should be tested for syphilis at the first prenatal visit (the first time you see your doctor for health care during pregnancy). If you don’t get tested at your first visit, make sure to ask your doctor about getting tested during a future checkup. Some women should be tested more than once during pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about the number of syphilis cases in your area and your risk for syphilis to determine if you should be tested again at the beginning of the third trimester, and again when your baby is born.

Keep in mind that you can have syphilis and not know it. Many people with syphilis do not have any symptoms. Also, syphilis symptoms may be very mild, or be similar to signs of other health problems. The only way to know for sure if you have syphilis is to get tested.

Is there treatment for syphilis?

Yes. Syphilis can be treated and cured with antibiotics. If you test positive for syphilis during pregnancy, be sure to get treatment right away.

If you are diagnosed with and treated for syphilis, your doctor should do follow-up testing for at least one year to make sure that your treatment is working.

Find out more on the CDC Website.