Franklin County, Ohio, Receives CDC Grant To Fight Syphilis
The CDC has granted Franklin County, Ohio, $150,000 to increase local syphilis prevention efforts because the disease is on the rise in the area, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Franklin County recorded 56 cases of primary and secondary syphilis by the end of August 2002, compared to 49 cases by the end of August 2001. This year, Columbus ranks 24th-worst among U.S. cities of 200,000 or more people in its syphilis rate, recording 3.9 syphilis cases per 100,000 people. Syphilis cases among men in Franklin County "jumped" 80% last year, while cases among women declined 29%. Syphilis cases nearly doubled among men ages 30 to 54, with the majority of these infections occurring among men who have sex with men, according to Merry Krempasky, director of sexual health at the Columbus Health Department. Local health officials plan to launch a "prominent" public awareness campaign to educate area residents, particularly the gay community, about syphilis. Columbus officials are working with three community organizations on how to boost sexually transmitted disease awareness and testing. Krempasky said that although the city health department screens for and treats syphilis, the disease is "not one that has been the subject of a major education effort." Susan DeLisle, head of program development support for the CDC's division of STD prevention, added that many people do not perceive syphilis as a "threat" because they are unaware that it "still exists." The city also plans to use the grant to hire one full-time and one part-time employee devoted to sexual health work and will send information on syphilis to doctors and hospitals. The CDC hopes to eliminate syphilis in 90% of U.S. counties by 2005; currently, 86% of counties report being free of the disease (Crane, Columbus Dispatch, 9/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.