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Sexual Conditions Health Center

The U.S. Is far From Free of Sexually Transmitted Disease

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Researchers say some of the increase of such diseases are in gay and bisexual men. They believe safe sex is not being as widely practiced as it was a few years ago, possibly because of less fear of

the consequences of getting infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.


In Baltimore, where the rate of syphilis is one of the highest in the country, the local health department recently began aggressively fighting the spread of the infection. A spokesperson for the Baltimore City Health Department tells WebMD the city created a training program for health professionals to teach them how to diagnose and treat sexually transmitted diseases. They also have a mobile medical van that goes into communities at highest risk to address treatment and prevention. The efforts seem to be working. The new report says Baltimore's rate of syphilis dropped by more than 63% between 1997 and 1999.


"The good news is we do know what works if we have the resources and commitment to implement those programs," Valdiserri says. Additional good news is that rates of babies being born with syphilis have gone down by about half nationally.


One city that may need to take some pointers from Baltimore is Indianapolis. The home of one of the most famous car races in the world is also home to an incredibly high rate of syphilis, according to the new report. Syphilis cases in Indy jumped by nearly 475% between 1997 and 1999. However, health officials there provided WebMD with materials stating that syphilis cases are now half of what they were at the same time last year. Indianapolis attributes this success to galvanizing community groups, clergy, health centers, jails, and minority organizations to educate people about the signs and symptoms of syphilis and convince people to be tested.


In addition to syphilis and gonorrhea, another disease that is worrisome to experts is chlamydia. Among women, untreated chlamydia infections can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, a common cause of fertility problems. Chlamydia, which is easily treated and cured, is increasing at a rate of about three million new cases each year. The states with the highest rate of chlamydia infections in young women are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin.

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