Volusia County, FL – Cases of syphilis and other sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) are increasing in Volusia County according to the Department of Health (DOH).
The rates of syphilis have increased over the past 3 years with 30 cases in 2014, and 80 cases in 2016.
“The 2017 rate is on pace to match last year’s total,” says Patricia Boswell, DOH-Volusia Administrator. “It’s only April and we have seen 24 cases this year.”
The rates of gonorrhea, chlamydia and HIV have also increased. Gonorrhea has increased 26% and Chlamydia has increased 12% this year alone.
“These higher rates may partly be due to better access to testing,” says Boswell. “We are encouraging STD testing and also working with community partners to educate on prevention and identify and treat infected people.”
The DOH-Volusia found that a large percent of the syphilis cases were from men who have sex with men. But, the DOH-Volusia urges that this is not the only cross-section of people who obtain the disease. This year, 36% of the syphilis cases were women.
“Syphilis does not discriminate among the sexes, geography or sexual orientation,” says DOH-Volusia disease control director, Dr. Paul Rehme.
Babies are also at risk of developing congenital syphilis, given to them from the positive mother during birth. Miscarriage, stillbirth and premature babies may result from untreated syphilis in the mother and babies born could have issues with their eyes, ears, teeth and bones.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 40% of babies born to untreated mothers will die.
“One of the difficult factors to overcome is that a man or woman may be infected with syphilis and not even know it,” says Rehme. “It’s easy to miss the symptoms early on, but 10 to 30 years down the road, syphilis can affect the heart or neurological systems and that damage is permanent.”
To prevent yourself from becoming infected by STDs, the DOH-Volusia recommends that you:
- Engage in long-term and monogamous relationships with an STD-negative partner
- Use condoms
- Get tested for STDs (you can get tested confidentially, for free and without appointments at DOH-Volusia locations in Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach and Orange City)
- Get treated with your partner as soon as possible if you test positive
Rehme believes that because of hook-up apps, better treatment, decreasing use of condoms and worsening access to healthcare, the local and national rates for STDs are going up.
For more information on STDs and STD testing, go to VolusiaHealth.com/STD.
Photo courtesy one photo and Shutterstock.com.
Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2017.