Contact: Chicago Department of Public Health
Efrat Stein: 312-747-9805 or email@example.com
Today, The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) released a new Healthy Chicago special surveillance report on syphilis in Chicago and is taking the opportunity to remind residents that syphilis is curable and a treatable condition when identified early. CDPH’s “Get Tested Chicago” campaign encourages individuals to get tested for HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), including syphilis and helps get them into care. The campaign is a program initiative of Healthy Chicago, the City’s new public health plan with a vision of making Chicago the healthiest city in the nation.
According to the new report, the number of primary and secondary syphilis cases in Chicago increased by 23% since 2009. In 2010 there were 686 reported cases compared to 561 in 2009.
“We are concerned with these numbers and we are taking immediate actions to address the increase with a concentrated effort on the most affected populations. We know from past experience that focused programmatic and public awareness efforts like Get Tested Chicago, have been effective in reducing sexually transmitted infections,” said Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner for the Chicago Department of Public Health.
Some of the highlights from the report are as follows:
In response, CDPH is implementing new measures as well as strengthening existing programs aimed at raising public awareness about syphilis and increasing prevention efforts, education and routine testing.
Some examples include:
It is important to remind people that syphilis is a curable and treatable condition, but when left untreated it can cause serious health complications and is even life threatening. Syphilis is passed during vaginal, anal or oral sex and starts with a single painless lesion that develops within three or four weeks at the site of entry into the body, and often goes unnoticed. If untreated, it can progress to a non-itchy rash on the trunk of the body, palms of the hands or soles of the feet. Symptoms may be confused with other conditions and are commonly overlooked completely. Pregnant women infected with syphilis can pass it to their unborn child and can cause permanent harm or death.
CDPH recommends people who think they may have been exposed to an STI seek medical care. Information on testing is available by calling 1-800-AID-AIDS or by visiting www.gettestedchicago.com