Pennsylvania Sees Highest Rate of Syphilis in 20 Years

Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam encouraged Pennsylvanians to take steps to decrease their risk of getting Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), including getting tested regularly to stay healthy. Central Outreach Wellness Center offers free and confidential STD testing at all locations.

“Sexually transmitted diseases are serious diseases that impact many Pennsylvanians each year,” Acting Secretary Beam said. “It is essential that all residents are aware of the risks and dangers associated with STDs. Many of these diseases can be easily diagnosed and treated, which is why we encourage all residents to talk to their doctor about getting tested so we can further prevent diseases and keep our residents healthy.” 

Early syphilis in Pennsylvania is currently at the highest rate in more than 20 years. Nationally, cases of congenital syphilis increased by 185 percent between 2014 and 2018. In 2019, five congenital syphilis cases were reported in the state of Pennsylvania, following seven cases reported in 2018. These reported cases of congenital syphilis in the state represented the highest number of cases in more than 25 years. 

A person with syphilis generally has a sore or sores at the initial infection site. These are usually (but not always) firm, round and painless. As the disease progresses, individuals may develop a skin rash, swollen lymph nodes and fever. The signs and symptoms of syphilis can be mild and may not be noticed, which is why it is important to regularly get tested.  

Individuals under age 30 in Pennsylvania accounted for: 

  • 44% of the reported early syphilis in 2019;
  • 68% of the reported gonorrhea in 2019; and
  • 85% of the reported chlamydia in 2019.

Get tested frequently at Central Outreach Wellness Center. Central Oureach also has the cure for syphilis.

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