In 2016, the U.S. saw a resurgence of sexually transmitted diseases, with two million cases of gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia being diagnosed. Of those cases, 628 of them were congenital syphilis.
California, which has the highest number of people in the U.S., is looking to fight the crisis, with a 45 percent increase in cases in 2017 from 2012. According to records, of the 300 congenital syphilis, 30 babies were born stillborn – the most of any state in the nation.
Heidi Bauer, California Department of Public Health STD Control Branch Chief, said the numbers are disturbing and qualify as an epidemic.
Congenital syphilis was once eliminated from the country as well as other countries. However, the disease is reemerging with California a reminder that public health programs are not adequate enough.
According to UCLA School of Medicine Jeffrey Klausner, the stillborn cases could have been completely preventable.
The problem stems from the lack of preventive care in the U.S. health system and not enough awareness campaigns about the rise of STDs like congenital syphilis. The 2008 financial crisis led to a deep cut in healthcare spending, which meant many STD clinics closed their doors.
On top of that, congenital syphilis’ risk factors are drug use, homelessness, poverty and pregnancies without proper healthcare.
California’s budget to deal with STD is $20 million, which also contains money the federal government gives.
Written by Mark Riegel, MD
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