With Dallas Syphilis Cases at All-Time Low, County Takes Steps for Further Reductions
Although syphilis cases in Dallas County, Texas, are at an "all-time low," health officials are seeking to further reduce disease levels by using public service announcements to raise awareness, the Dallas Morning News reports. The 30-second PSAs began running last Wednesday on local station KTXA-TV and will continue to air for six months. The PSA is part of a $50 million national campaign by the CDC to eliminate syphilis, which can cause deafness, blindness, mental disorders and death if left untreated. The campaign focuses on increasing syphilis screening and expanding STD clinic hours, and has enlisted the help of not-for-profit agencies in raising awareness of the disease. Nationally, the number of cases fell to 5,900 last year from 7,035 in 1998, when the campaign began. In Dallas County, one of 28 counties nationwide -- mostly across the South -- that account for 50% of the country's syphilis cases, the number of cases fell from 124 in 1998 to 97 last year. Blacks constituted 62% of county cases last year; breaking cases down by age group, those between 30 and 39 accounted for the highest percentage at 38%. Syphilis often gets overshadowed by HIV and AIDS, which recorded 874 cases and 578 cases in the county last year, respectively, according to the Dallas Morning News. "We're trying to let people know that syphilis is still here," Don Hutcheson, program manager at the county's Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic, said. Syphilis tests at the clinic cost $15 and results are usually available the following day, Hutcheson added (Housewright, Dallas Morning News, 9/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.