Apicha Community Health Center received a memo from the New York State Department of Health, AIDS Institute asking us to pass along information regarding the state's continued increases in syphilis.
Infectious syphilis is increasing in New York State, with a 14 percent increase in New York City between 2014 and 2016.
Although there is an increase in every category, the highest burden of cases is seen in New York City and surrounding counties. Cases are mainly among males, especially gay men and men who have sex with men.
What does this mean for you?
All patients of Apicha Community Health Center should be aware of the risk factors, signs, and symptoms of syphilis. Having unprotected sex (including unprotected oral sex), multiple partners, or a new sex partner can all increase the risk of syphilis infection, as well as other STDs and HIV.
Syphilis symptoms include a large painless sore at the infection site (usually genitals, can also be around the rectum, mouth, or other areas) and a rash, usually on the hands and feet. These symptoms will go away on their own but the infection is still in the body.
Syphilis increases your risk of getting HIV if you are exposed. Syphilis is easy to transmit, and many people don't have symptoms. Using condoms does reduce the risk of infection. If you are serosorting or using pre-exposure prohphylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV, remember that these strategies do not protect against syphilis and other STDs.
What can be done to prevent the spread of syphilis?
There are number of ways to prevent the spread of syphilis:
- Limit your number of sex partners;
- Use a male or female condom;
- Notify all sexual contacts immediately so they can obtain examination and treatment;
- All pregnant women should receive at least one prenatal blood test for syphilis;
- And, most importantly, GET TESTED.
Where do I get tested?
If you're already a patient and haven't had STD tests recently or if you're a resident of New York City, make an appointment with Apicha Community Health Center. All visits are based on a sliding-fee scale based on your income.
If you don't live in New York City, visit www.findSTDtest.com to find a syphilis testing location near you.