The Houston Health Department has launched a massive community outreach campaign after declaring an outbreak of syphilis in Houston.
The outbreak is behind a 128 percent increase in cases among women and a nine-fold rise in congenital syphilis in Houston and Harris County. As part of the outreach efforts, the department will be increasing screening opportunities, targeting hotspots, and mobilizing community partners to help prevent new infections. They’ll also wave all clinical fees for sexually transmitted infections at its health centers.
“Pregnant women must seek prenatal care and syphilis testing to protect themselves from an infection that could result in the deaths of their babies,” Marlene McNeese Ward, deputy assistant director in the department’s Bureau of HIV/STI and Viral Hepatitis Prevention said.
“A pregnant woman needs to get tested for syphilis three times during her pregnancy.”
The department is also expanding the use of its HIV/STD mobile clinic to increase the number of community screening sites in areas deemed hotspots and working with medical professionals to help raise awareness and increase testing and treatment.
Syphilis patients face a higher risk of HIV infection due to the painless sore developed at the site of sexual contact during the disease’s primary stage. New syphilis infections are known as primary, secondary, and early latent syphilis.
The disease is easily treatable with antibiotics. But if left untreated, can progress to the secondary stage where one or more areas of the skin break into a rash.
It has long been associated with high-risk groups, especially in men who have sex with men, according to the National Institute of Health. With the current outbreak in Houston being associated with women, it has raised concerns among many who are advocating for safer sex.
“Promiscuous sex never pays. Find a good man, marry him, and become exclusive,” one person tweeted in response to the report.
Promiscuous sex never pays. 🤷♂️
Find a good man, marry him, and become exclusive.
“Why is this a thing? What happened to no glove, no love?” another user asked.
According to Fox News, the department is recommending syphilis testing for multiple groups including pregnant women at their first prenatal visit, third trimester, and delivery, those who have had unprotected sex, people with more than one sexual partner, men with anonymous sex partners, and people recently diagnosed with any other sexually transmitted disease.
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Source: Black Enterprise