The Alaska Department of Health and Human Services has issued a health advisory in the state over a significant spike in syphilis cases this year. So far this year there have been more reported cases of the infection in the first three months than were reported in all of 2017. Syphilis rates have been rising over the past few years all over the country, however, the spike in Alaska is one of the highest yet.
There have been 22 cases of syphilis reported this year in Alaska. According to the DHHS, most cases were in the Anchorage area and most cases were in men under than age of 30. The department has also reported a high rate of co-infection. 5 of the 22 patients were also found to be infected with HIV.
There have been several clusters of syphilis being reported in the past few months. Both Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the state of Pennsylvania have found significant clusters of both syphilis and HIV with high rates of co-infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported a 17% increase in syphilis nationally since 2015.
Syphilis is a curable STD, especially if the infection is caught early enough. It is treated with antibiotics. If a syphilis infection goes untreated it can spread throughout the body and cause serious irreversible damage. There are several stages to syphilis. It is best to begin treatment in the primary stage. Allowing syphilis to go untreated may cause it to advance into later stages. In its final stage, syphilis can be fatal.
Symptoms of syphilis are not always present and there are several stages of the infection. In the primary stage, syphilis can cause a single or multiple sores located around the spot where syphilis entered your body. The sores are typically firm, round and painless. Since it is painless, these sores can go unnoticed. The sores will go away on their own but then the next stage of syphilis develops. If you believe you have been exposed to syphilis or any other STD, you should STD testing performed. There are many affordable and convenient options for STD testing in Anchorage and the rest of Alaska. Testing is the best option to detect the infection early and give you a full picture of the current status of your sexual health.