VDH Reports 655% Increase in Syphilis Cases in Virginia

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has seen a significant increase in syphilis cases over the past few years, with a 655% rise between 2003 and 2019.[0] This concerning trend has been identified by the Blue Ridge Health District (BRHD), which is now seeing more people, particularly women of reproductive age, being diagnosed with syphilis.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that can be spread through person-to-person contact. It can be difficult to detect, as some people may not show symptoms, yet it can cause severe health issues if left untreated. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) notes that there has been a 235% increase in congenital syphilis cases nationwide since 2016, which is when a mother passes the infection on to her child during pregnancy.[1]

Furthermore, VDH warns that the current drug epidemic with opioids and methamphetamines is linked to a higher risk of syphilis.[2] If left untreated, the infection can cause damage to organs and even death. In pregnant people, syphilis may lead to premature labor, birth defects, or a stillborn baby.[3]

Fortunately, syphilis can be cured with the correct antibiotics.[1] However, BRHD notes that treatment will not undo any damage caused by the infection.[1] People who have been sexually active should take extra precaution and seek medical attention if they think they may have contracted syphilis.

0. “Syphilis cases are on the rise in Virginia” NBC 29, 5 Mar. 2023, https://www.nbc29.com/2023/03/05/syphilis-cases-are-rise-virginia/

1. “Syphilis cases on the rise in Virginia, up 655 percent in 16 years” Augusta Free Press, 1 Mar. 2023, https://augustafreepress.com/news/syphilis-cases-on-the-rise-in-virginia-up-655-percent-in-16-years

2. “VDH reporting increase in reported syphilis cases -” CBS19 News, 1 Mar. 2023, http://www.cbs19news.com/story/48479408/vdh-reporting-increase-in-reported-syphilis-cases

3. “Marion County encourages syphilis testing after cases spike” Statesman Journal, 25 Feb. 2023, https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/health/2023/02/25/sexually-transmitted-infections-syphilis-gonorrhea-chlamydia-cases-testing-symptoms-treatment/69932484007

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