Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by Treponema pallidum, disseminated by direct contact during sexual activity, and is on the rise in Arizona. The infection develops in primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary phases. Treating Syphilis with medicines is successful, however untreated Syphilis can lead to major health complications.
This blog will analyze the causes underlying the spike in Syphilis prevalence in Arizona and its consequences and why STD testing is imperative to cull its rising rate of transmission.
Understanding The Syphilis Surge in Arizona
Syphilis infections, especially congenital Syphilis, are now rising in Arizona. Since 2015, the number of female cases of Syphilis in the state of Arizona has increased by 449%.
Congenital Syphilis cases have steadily risen since 2015, year after year. In 2022, 187 infants had congenital Syphilis, which led to 21 stillbirths or infant deaths. How far the disease has advanced is a major factor in Syphilis diagnosis. Unless symptoms are evident, a blood test is advised.
Concern should be expressed over Arizona’s rising Syphilis incidence, particularly about congenital cases. Professionals must be informed of STD testing procedures, and individuals must engage in safe sex to prevent the illness from spreading.
The growing concern and the alarming rates of Syphilis cases
Arizona faces an alarming spike in Syphilis infections, particularly in mothers and babies. The growth in cases of congenital Syphilis is the second-worst incidence in Arizona with a 700% increase in the preceding decade. Arizona ranks highest for congenital Syphilis, with a rate of 150.3 cases per 100,000 live births.
The rise in Syphilis cases is avoidable with the proper screening and treatment. The United States Preventive Services Task Force advises screening for Syphilis infection in those at greater risk.
The guideline applies to asymptomatic, nonpregnant adolescents and adults who have never been sexually active and is based on data indicating the benefits of screening exceed the harms. To address the rising worry of Syphilis cases, there should be an emphasis on screening those at high risk for Syphilis.
Exploring the factors contributing to the rising rates
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, Syphilis cases have been rising in the state because of the following factors that are contributing to this trend:
- Poverty: Research studying Syphilis rates in the United States revealed that greater rates of Syphilis occurred in states with lower income and higher poverty.
- Drug use: A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that drug use prevalence was greater among pregnant individuals in Arizona with a congenital Syphilis pregnancy outcome than those without.
- Congenital Syphilis: Maricopa County has observed a considerable increase in congenital Syphilis cases in recent years. This shows that the increased prevalence of Syphilis in Arizona may be partially related to congenital Syphilis cases.
Promoting safe sexual practices
To promote safe sexual behaviours and minimize Syphilis prevalence in Arizona, the following initiatives could be enacted:
- Encourage STD testing: Encourage people to be tested for Syphilis and other STIs frequently, especially if they indulge in sexual activity and have numerous partners.
- Access to therapy: Ensure patients who test positive for Syphilis receive timely and efficient treatment. This could assist in inhibiting the virus’s transmission.
- Promote condom use: Encourage condoms during sexual activity to minimize the probability of Syphilis and other STIs.
- Increase access to healthcare: Increasing and improving access to healthcare and STD testing services for neglected groups, including STI testing and treatment.
- Increase research: More investigation is needed for STI preventive biological therapy, as well as Syphilis and other STI clinics and drugs.
Curbing the Syphilis Surge in Arizona
To curb the Syphilis surge in Arizona, several potential strategies could be implemented:
- Third-trimester screening policies: One study showed that third-trimester screening policies effectively reduced the number of cases by using surveillance data to address a CS outbreak in Arizona.
- Increased prenatal treatment access: In Arizona, congenital Syphilis frequently occurs due to delayed or absent prenatal treatment or the mother contracting the infection late in her pregnancy. Expanding access to prenatal care may reduce the occurrence of CS.
- Public education campaigns: These programs can raise awareness of the risks associated with Syphilis and the need to get diagnosed and treated. This might help dispel the stigma associated with the disorder and motivate more people to seek treatment.
- Partner notification and treatment: Identifying and getting in touch with the sexual partners of people diagnosed with Syphilis to encourage them to get tested and treated for the disease is known as “partner notification and treatment.” This may lessen the number of patients and stop the disease’s spread.
- Increased funding for STD prevention and treatment: Financial support for STD prevention and treatment programs should be increased to improve access to care and reduce the incidence of Syphilis in Arizona.
- Increased syphilis screening during pregnancy: Pregnant women should get checked for the disease at the beginning and end of their pregnancy. Congenital Syphilis, which can result in major health issues for infants, can be avoided this way.
- Working with community groups: To reach people at increased risk for Syphilis, public health professionals can collaborate with community organizations, including schools, churches, and community centres. These groups can aid in educating people about testing and treatment possibilities.
Combining these strategies might assist in lowering the Syphilis outbreak in Arizona and the incidence of congenital Syphilis.
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