NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Syphilis Cases Rise

November 1, 2002

In 1999, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the syphilis rate had reached its lowest level since 1941, and said they believed the disease could be eliminated in five years.

But last year, the number of cases detected among men rose slightly. Researchers are concerned that this may indicate an increase in "unsafe" sex, particularly among homosexuals.

  • There were 6,103 cases reported in 2001 -- compared to 5,979 the previous year.
  • The number of modern-day cases rose during the late 1980s -- peaking at roughly 28,000 in 1990 -- and then plummeted each year during the 1990s.
  • But in the last several years of the 1990s, the decline began leveling off.

CDC experts say their goal is to have 90 percent of counties free of the disease by 2005. Now, 80 percent are. The overall goal is to reduce cases to 1,000 or fewer per year.

Source: Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "Syphilis Reported Increasing for First Time in a Decade," New York Times, November 1, 2002.


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