In 2000, America had just about eradicated congenital syphilis. However, since 2012, the number of congenital syphilis cases (babies born with the disease) has been rising with some places seeing a crisis-level outbreak.
to public health experts, the blame could be tied to the opioid
epidemic. And, until the government addresses both these issues and
regains control, President Donald Trump’s promise to eradicate HIV
was never be fulfilled.
is congenital syphilis? It’s syphilis a mother has that’s passed
onto her fetus. It can result in miscarriages and stillbirths.
Newborns with congenital syphilis often have bone deformities, brain
and nerve problems, and meningitis. They could even die in infancy.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number of
congenital syphilis case increased by 44 percent from 2016 to 2017,
and more than 130 percent increase from 2013 to 2017.
Arizona, there were 53 cases of congenital syphilis in babies in 2018
with 10 of them dying – the most deaths for the disease ever
recorded for the state.
City is facing its own outbreak of congenital syphilis with a 71
percent increase in one year. The outbreak follows four straight
years of the health department experiencing local, state and federal
budget cuts. With less money, the department cannot fill positions
necessary to control the outbreak.
City leaders were urged to declare a public health emergency, which
would allow more resources to go toward the health department.
Nothing has been decided as of yet.
According to the National Academy of Public Administration 2018 report, there has been a 40 percent decrease in federal STD funding since 2003. The National Coalition of STD Directors Communications Director Matthew Prior said the majority of state and city health department solely or mostly depend on the federal funding they get.
said every time a case of congenital syphilis is diagnosed, it’s
the result of a public health failure. He said the disease is
treatable and can be diagnosed easily.
who get syphilis are doing so either by sharing needles or having sex
with infected partners. According to experts, needle transmissions
are increasing with the epidemic level of opioid use. Along with the
increase in congenital syphilis cases, the opioid epidemic has
hindered the ability health departments have in responding to them
due to the resources going toward the drug problem.
million has been spent by the federal government on the opioid crisis
in 2018. Only $120 million was spent on STD prevention.
said STDs have yet to rise to critical levels that influence decision
makers to allocate the resources.
Trump pledged during his State of the Union address that he would end
HIV in the next 10 years, but Prior said, unless more resources are
designated for the prevention of STDs, it wasn’t going to happen.
He said HIV can only end if control is regained on other STDs
has gotten some control over the congenital syphilis outbreak. Since
the state noticed a triple number in the number of cases in 2016, it
expanded its outreach and education efforts, began testing all
pregnant women and improve the interview process for syphilis
positive individuals to find those they came into sexual contact
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health Medical Director for Communicable Disease Karen Landers, when a person comes in for a service, the opportunity should be taken to find out where the disease initially came from. She said that might mean working over county lines. Although Alabama’s numbers for syphilis has also risen, it’s actually dropped since the outbreak in 2016.
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