Possible "Gathering storm" of AIDS


Esse Quam Videri
May 29, 2003
Rise in syphilis may signal gathering storm of AIDS

Washington Post

WASHINGTON - The number of Americans infected with syphilis increased for the second year in a row last year, continuing a reversal of a decade-long decline in the sexually transmitted infection, federal health officials reported Thursday.

The rising number of syphilis cases is raising alarms that it may be a harbinger of an increase in the spread of the AIDS virus because syphilis is transmitted the same way and appears to be occurring primarily among gay and bisexual men, officials said.

"We are extremely concerned about that possibility," said Ronald Valdiserri, deputy director of the National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which released the new numbers.

Valdiserri and other experts said the increase may be a sign of growing complacency about the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) among gay and bisexual men because of the introduction of potent drug treatments that have caused a decline in the death rate from AIDS and a backlash against safe-sex campaigns.

Although syphilis can cause serious health problems if untreated, a single shot of penicillin can cure the infection.


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