Number of New Syphilis Infections Increased 2% in the United States in 2001, CDC Report Finds
The number of new syphilis infections in the United States rose last year for the first time in 11 years, with large increases occurring among men who have sex with men, according to new CDC statistics released yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to the statistics, which appear in today's issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, there were 6,103 new primary and secondary syphilis cases in 2001, a 2.1% rise from 2000. Health officials noted, however, that syphilis is declining among some populations disproportionately affected by the disease (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 11/1). Although the rate of syphilis among blacks was 15.7 times the rate among non-Hispanic whites in 2001, syphilis cases among blacks declined by 9.8% overall between 2000 and 2001, with cases among black women dropping 18.1% and cases among black men decreasing by 3.5%. However, the syphilis rate rose in all other ethnic groups. The syphilis rate among non-Hispanic whites increased 40%, compared to a 31% rise among Hispanics, a 66.7% increase among Asian-Pacific Islanders and a 75% increase among Native Americans/Alaska Natives. Syphilis rates overall were much higher among men than women; in 2001, men were twice as likely to be infected with the disease as women. Although syphilis infections decreased among women in nearly every ethnic group, increases among men were reported among all ethnic groups. The South had the highest rate of syphilis -- 56.2% of syphilis infections in the country in 2001 occurred in the region -- but the region's syphilis rate declined by 8.1% between 2000 and 2001 (MMWR, 11/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.