Twenty New Syphilis Cases, One New HIV Case Found in Rural N.C. County
Twenty new cases of syphilis and one new case of HIV were detected in August after residents of Robeson County, N.C., the largest rural county in the state, participated in a countywide screening, officials said on Friday. The Fayetteville Observer reports that the screening brought the number of new syphilis cases in the county up to 127 this year, compared with 130 in all of 2000. With 50.2 cases per 100,000 people, Robeson ranks 17th in the nation for county-wide syphilis incidence. More than 50 disease intervention specialists spent two weekends in August screening more than 1,000 residents and discussing the county's syphilis problem with them. Within the next few weeks, a CDC team will arrive to help county health officials plan further screening and education campaigns, and state officials plan to extend their syphilis elimination efforts to substance abuse and mental health agencies. Evelyn Foust, head of North Carolina's HIV/STD Branch, said, "What I'm worried about is that Robeson County is five times more likely to have an increase in HIV infections because of the high syphilis cases." Although only one case of HIV was found during the August screening, she said that "there is no doubt that many of these people were just beginning to develop HIV during the testing. We just weren't able to pick it up" (Jenkins, Fayetteville Observer, 10/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.