- NEW YORK (Reuters Health) -- Syphilis cases are at an all time low in the
US and the time is ripe for the eradication of this sexually transmitted
disease (STD), according to Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, director of the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Half of syphilis cases are now
reported by only 1% of counties in the US.
- "We have the rare opportunity to
add syphilis next to malaria and cholera on the short list of diseases
we have beaten in the United States,'' said Koplan in a statement issued
by they CDC. "But if we don't take the opportunity now, we will lose
- Syphilis eradication will become a key
priority for the CDC, Koplan is scheduled to announce at the 1998 National
STD Prevention Conference, set to begin Monday in Dallas, Texas.
- According to the CDC's new report on
STD prevalence, ''Tracking the Hidden Epidemics: Trends in the STD Epidemics
in the United States,'' rates of syphilis and gonorrhea have reached all-time
lows in the US.
- However, the prevalence of gonorrhea
(123 cases per 100,000) "remains well above the goal for the nation
by the year 2000 (100 per 100,000),'' according to the report. And other
STDs such as chlamydia, herpes and human papillomavirus remain widespread
problems in the US.
- Expanding chlamydia detection and treatment
programs is also a high priority in the US, according to Dr. Judith Wasserheit
of the CDC. A substantial reduction in chlamydia rates could be produced
simply by expanding existing chlamydia treatment and prevention programs,
according to the CDC. However, such programs reach only 50% of women at
risk in 20 states, and less than 15% in 30 states.
- "It is unconscionable that diseases
that can be cured with one dose of antibiotics continue to exact such a
tremendous toll on the nation,'' Wasserheit said. "We simply must
reach people with the prevention, screening, and treatment needed to reduce
- The CDC report card identifies, in alphabetical
order, Atlanta, Baltimore, Birmingham, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Milwaukee,
Nashville, Newark, New Orleans, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Richmond, St. Louis
and Washington DC as the US cities with the highest rates of both gonorrhea
and syphilis in 1997.
- In the same year, Arkansas, South Carolina,
Mississippi, North Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Georgia, Illinois
and Florida top the list of states for chlamydia rates among young women
15 to 24 years of age.