Syphilis Surge: CDC Sounds Alarm as U.S. Rates Reach Highest Levels Since the 1950s

The number of sexually transmitted diseases is on the rise in the United States.

Syphilis cases in 2022 increased to the highest level since 1950, according to a new report, released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2022, a total of 207,255 cases of syphilis were reported in the U.S., the CDC report says. Total syphilis cases increased by 16.9%, as the rate of reported cases rose from 53.2 per 100,000 in 2021 to 62.2 per 100,000 in 2022.

The increase in congenital cases (30.6%) is particularly alarming (these occur when a pregnant mother infects her unborn child with syphilis). In 2022 there will be more than 3,700 cases reported.

Dr. Laura Bachmann said in a report accompanying this statement “We’ve known for years that these infections were common, but havenโ€™t seen the severe effects of syphilis for decades. It has become a unique challenge to public health.”

While chlamydia and gonorrhea account for more cases than syphilis โ€“ and syphilis is considered more dangerous โ€“ the rates of infection of those sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) fell or held steady.

Chlamydia will continue to be the most common STD around the world. In 2022 there were 1.6 million cases or 495 cases per 100,000 people.

Gonorrhea declined for the first time since 2009: Total cases fell 9.2% in 2022 to about 648,000 cases. The largest decline came among women (down 14.5%), according to the report.

STDs were more common among young adults and in males.

Bisexuals and gay men are more likely than heterosexuals to report STDs.

In 2022, 59,000 cases of syphilis were reported. A quarter of the cases involved women and one-fourth heterosexual men.

Because we don’t test for it, it has likely spread unknowingly among the cisgender, heterosexual, and lesbian populations. Dr. Philip Chan who teaches at Brown University, and is the chief medical officer of Open Door Health in Providence, Rhode Island for lesbians gays, and transgender people, told the Associated Press they didn’t look for it.

When did the rate increase of syphilis occur?

Untreated syphilis can cause brain damage, blindness, and dementia. In some cases, it can be fatal.

In 2012, the number of cases of syphilis began to increase.

The CDC reports that the syphilis rate has risen almost annually since 2000 and 2001. It increased by 9.3% in 2021-2022.

The CDC reports that syphilis rates are on the rise among both men and women in the U.S. regardless of their age. While infection rates are increasing for all races, they have been most pronounced among non-Hispanic American Indians/Alaska Natives.

The CDC said that COVID-19’s prominence in the pandemic may have led to an increase in syphilis cases and underreporting. The report states that “it’s likely such effects will continue for several years, and we may not know the full impact (of the pandemic) on (transmitted infections). “