Health Alert – Syphilis Rates on the Rise for Young Black Gay Men

Rates of Syphilis infections have been on the rise in the U.S. for the past several years as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in their Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance, 2010 publication. Across the board, syphilis infections rose 36 percent last year.

However, African-American and Latino men who have sex with men (MSM) were disproportionately affected. Among Black MSM, syphilis had increased a startling 135 percent.

What can you do?

If you are a sexually active African-American or Latino gay man, you need to get tested for Syphilis. It’s an easy blood test that you can get at any local health department. You can also search for other testing centers near you by entering your zip code at the CDC’s website: http://www.hivtest.org/

How do you know if you have it?

You can have Syphilis and not have any symptoms. However, the first stage of syphilis usually involves getting a single sore (called a chancre) on our around the area where the infection entered the body. There can also be multiple sores. The sore is usually firm, round, small, and painless. It lasts 3 to 6 weeks, and it heals without treatment. It is frequently followed by a non-itchy rash that may involve all the body including the hands and feet. If syphilis goes untreated, the infection can cause serious health problems including brain and organ damage.

Can it be cured?

Syphilis can be cured in the early stages of the infection with a simple injection.

For more information about Syphilis, go to the CDC’s website: http://www.cdc.gov/std/Syphilis/STDFact-MSM-Syphilis.htm.

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