STI Prevention @ Trillium Health

New York State region sees spike in syphilis infections. Monroe County rates increase 42% from previous year.

The AIDS Institute, The New York State Department of Health and Monroe County Department of Health have identified an increase in syphilis infections in the Upstate New York region. Health officials are alarmed because syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) which can have significant health outcomes if undiagnosed and untreated.

  • Early results from Monroe County indicate a 42% increase in 2014 from the previous year.
  • Males account for 94% of total cases; 67% of those cases are among gay men/MSM and 21% of total male cases did not include sex partner data and could also be gay men/MSM.
  • Areas outside of the five boroughs of New York City (Long Island, Westchester County and areas outside but adjacent to NYC) continue to have the highest number of cases (172) as in years past with cases increasing 19% in the first six months of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013.* 

“The good news is syphilis can be identified by testing, cured with antibiotics, and through contact notification, the spread of syphilis can be stopped,” said Trillium Health’s staff physician Dr. William Valenti. “We want to encourage people to seek testing and treatment if they have been having unprotected sex. Free confidential testing and treatment are available right here at Trillium Health and at the Monroe County STD clinic.”

“The people most at-risk for Syphilis include men who have sex with men, people who have multiple sex partners, IV drug users and people who have sex with anonymous partners, including those met online and on mobile phone apps.”

Syphilis is a curable bacterial infection that is primarily spread through sexual contact.

A person can contract and spread syphilis through:

  • Oral sex;
  • Anal sex;
  • Vaginal sex, or
  • Through other intimate contact including kissing (when a syphilis sore is present in the mouth).

Symptoms of syphilis include:

  • A painless lesion, called a chancre, during the early stages of the infection,
  • Can be on or in the penis, or inside the vagina, anus or mouth;
  • Red or reddish brown spots on palms of hands and bottoms of feet or on the torso;
  • Rashes, swollen lymph glands, sore throat and fatigue.

Left untreated, syphilis can cause damage to:

  • Major organs, including the brain and blood vessels; and
  • Cause serious birth defects or infant death
  • “Early detection and treatment can cure syphlis, and reduce the risk for HIV transmission.”

“There are many ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat syphilis and other STIs. Reducing the number of sex partners and consistent condom use will greatly reduce one’s risk of STIs including syphilis. Once infected, STI screening and early diagnoses are vital to prevent serious health problems and increased transmission, or continued spreading of syphilis. Screening is particularly important since many STIs often have no signs or symptoms,” Valenti emphasized.

For information about prevention, risk factors, testing and treatment please contact Trillium Health at (585) 545-7200 or visit www.trilliumhealth.org

For more information about syphilis and other STIs, visit www.cdc.gov/std