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Syphilis Cases Increase In Vermont, Could Contribute To Spread Of HIV

Armen Hareyan's picture

The VermontDepartment of Health on Wednesday announced an increase in thenumber of recorded syphilis cases in the state, the BarreMontpelier Times Argus reports (Hirschfeld, BarreMontpelier Times Argus, 1/3). According to theAP/Burlington FreePress, nine cases of syphilis -- which can increase therisk of HIV -- were reported last year in the state, compared withthree in 2006 and one in 2005 (Rathke, AP/Burlington FreePress, 1/3). The increase of syphilis cases in the statefollows a nationwide increase in recent years.

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According toVermont epidemiologist Cort Lohff, nearly all the cases involve menwho have sex with men. Lohff added that some of the cases werecontracted in the state, whereas in the past, most of the casesdiagnosed in the state had been contracted outside Vermont (BarreMontpelier Times Argus, 1/3). "The key here is thatthis infection has found its way into Vermont, and it's being spreadamong sexually active [MSM] here in Vermont," Lohffsaid.

Hannah Hauser -- co-director of health and wellness forthe R.U.1.2? QueerCommunity Center in Burlington, Vt. -- said the increaseindicates that more people are being tested for the disease andseeking treatment (AP/Burlington Free Press, 1/3). NancyMosher, president and CEO of PlannedParenthood of Northern New England, said the increase in syphiliscases in the state represents "good reason to give some renewedpublic messaging and education about" syphilis, HIV/AIDS andother sexually transmitted infections (Barre Montpelier TimesArgus, 1/3).

According to CDCofficials, the number of syphilis cases in the U.S. reached anall-time low in 2000 but increased annually from 2000 to 2005, themost recent year for which the agency has figures. CDC analystsestimate that in 2000, MSM accounted for 7% of syphilis cases in thecountry but accounted for more than 60% in 2005. According to CDC,syphilis incidence in the overall population was 2.1 cases per100,000 people in 2000, compared with three cases per 100,000 peoplein 2005, or 8,724 cases (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/14/07).

Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and signup for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is publishedfor kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser FamilyFoundation.