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Syphilis on the Rise Among African-Americans

african americansThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research team reported this week that syphilis cases in the U.S. have nearly doubled since 2005, with Black men and women more at risk for contracting the disease.

“After being on the verge of elimination in 2000 in the United States, syphilis cases have rebounded,” announced Dr. Monica Patton and colleagues in  Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

During the 2005 to 2013 period, the number of primary and secondary syphilis cases reported each year in the United States nearly doubled, from 8,724 to 16,663 cases, representing an annual rate increase from 2.9 to 5.3 cases per 100,000 population.

There are also huge racial and ethnic differences among those contracting syphilis, according to the CDC.  Black men are five times more likely to contract the disease than white men, and Black women are 13 times more at risk than white women. Secrecy around gay and bisexual sex is a major contributing factor to the spread of the disease, scientists warned.

About 91 percent of all new syphilis cases were among men of all races, and almost all of those were men who identified themselves as gay or bisexual.

Syphilis can be prevented through the correct and consistent use of latex or polyurethane condoms.

Women who do not know that they are infected with syphilis and become pregnant can seriously endanger their babies. The disease causes low birth weight, prematurity, and even stillbirth.

S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on Twitter @ReporterandGirl, and visit her website at

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