Texas sees rise in syphilis rates
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Syphilis rates are up in Texas, according to a report recently released by health officials. According to the Houston Chronicle, the spike is particularly high in Houston and Harris County. This is increase is concerning, especially considering that cases had been decreasing between 2008 and 2011. According to healthcare providers in the area, these findings should encourage individuals to visit sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing centers in Texas.
"It's very alarming," said Lupita Thornton, program manager for sexually transmitted diseases for the Houston Department of Health and Human Services, quoted by the news source. "We hope it's alarming to the Houston-area community so people who know they're at risk get tested."
She added that one of the possible reasons for this surge is the use of social networking sites to arrange sexual encounters.
In response to this spike, health officials are urging healthcare providers, particularly those who treat men, to screen their patients for syphilis. Men who have sex with men account for a large amount of the new infections. Furthermore, they added that people who engage in anonymous sex, have multiple sexual partners or have another STD to get tested.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2006, men who have sex with men had 64 percent of the reported cases of syphilis in the entire U.S. Also, in the first stages of this infection, the only symptom might be a small, round and painless sore on the genitals that may go unnoticed, increasing the risk that someone spreads it to others.
Of course, women can get this infection as well. In fact, these findings come on the heels of health officials in San Antonio announcing that there has been an increase in the number of babies born with syphilis in the region, since this infection can be passed on to offspring if left untreated.
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