Mississippi is seeing steadily rising rates of syphilis, a sexually-transmitted disease with serious health consequences. From 2013 to 2016, the number of new syphilis cases in the state almost tripled. Nationally, the U.S. is seeing its highest rate of syphilis in 20 years.
Who is at risk
Syphilis is rising most quickly in young African-American men, especially those who are gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men (MSM). This is also the group hardest hit by HIV. Having syphilis also makes it easier to get HIV.
Syphilis is affecting more women, too. If you are infected during pregnancy, your baby can die or have serious birth defects, as well as being born already infected with syphilis. As with men, having syphilis also lowers the body's defenses against HIV infection.
Early detection makes all the difference
Advanced syphilis can invade major organs of the body and cause debilitating illness or death. Yet when it's detected early, it's easy to treat and cure. That's why testing is so important. It can lead to quick, proper care that makes a great difference in your health—and that of others.
Confidential testing for syphilis and other sexually-transmitted diseases like HIV is always available at any county health department, or from your healthcare provider.
Protecting Yourself and Others
Don't wait for syphilis to find you. You can avoid getting or giving the disease by being safe during sex:
- Always use a condom during sex, and make sure it's used the right way.
- Stay faithful to one partner at a time, and keep the number of your sexual partners low.
- Talk with your partners about their sexual history and health, and tell them about yours.