Online Search Activity Helps Health Officials Predict STD Trends


One of the most significant obstacles presented to health officials in the fight against any infection is knowing when and where an outbreak will occur. New studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have discovered a promising new way to identify potential threats, particularly when it comes to syphilis. Tracking online search topics related to STDs could be the secret to knowing when an outbreak will occur.

Due to stigmas still attached to certain infections, many people will avoid getting tested or seeing a doctor when they become infected. Instead, the turn to the internet for answers. When you go to a doctor or have testing performed, your information is kept private. Only after testing positive do state laws require reporting a syphilis infection to the health department. When you decide to go online and search for information on syphilis, your search history is not as well protected.

By accessing keyword and regional data from Google and social media, health departments are finding new ways to monitor when certain infections see a spike of interest in a specific area. This is allowing those health departments to preemptively move resources around and prepare for the treatment needs of a community.

Syphilis was once thought to be nearly extinct. When detected early enough, the infection can be cured with antibiotics. In recent years, syphilis has been making a huge comeback all across the United States. Just this year several outbreaks have been identified in Alaska, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. This increased number of cases has caused problems for health departments everywhere.

If you believe that you may have been exposed to syphilis or any other STD, don’t simply search the internet for answers. You should have STD testing performed right away. Since symptoms of an infection do not always present themselves, testing can often be the only way to detect the infection. If left untreated, STDs like syphilis can have serious, long term health consequences. In its final stage, syphilis can be fatal.

Article by Robert Francis Curtis

Robert studied at Columbia College Chicago. He has worked as a Care Adviser here at Analyte Health for a while and looks forward to spreading more information about sexual health.

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