Riverside County Sees Rise in Syphilis Cases
Syphilis cases among women in Riverside County increased during 2005, despite national trends that show infections declining among women, according to county health officials, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
Women accounted for 11 of the 112 new syphilis cases reported in Riverside County -- an amount that Barbara Cole, chief of the county health department's disease control program, called "substantial."
The county has the fourth highest incidence of syphilis in California, behind San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego counties. The incidence of syphilis in the county has more than doubled since 2002.
Most women who were infected said they have used methamphetamine, which is believed to be a factor in the spread of the disease among men who have sex with men, according to Cole. Syphilis also could have been spread to the women by bisexual men or heterosexual men with multiple partners, Cole said.
People with syphilis lesions have an increased risk in contracting HIV, according to Cole. About 75% of syphilis patients also have HIV.
Cole said health officials are watching to see if the increase in cases among women is an anomaly or whether a trend is developing (Beeman, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 5/29).