The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently unveiled its annual report on sexually transmitted infections for 2022, revealing a concerning uptick in syphilis cases nationwide. While chlamydia rates remained steady and gonorrhea cases decreased, the significant rise in syphilis and congenital syphilis has raised red flags, prompting the CDC to label it a worsening “syphilis epidemic.”
In 2022, reported syphilis cases shot up by 17%, reaching a total of 203,500 cases compared to the 173,858 reported in 2021. Particularly alarming is the 30.6% increase in congenital syphilis cases, where the infection is passed from an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy.
Reflecting national trends, North Carolina saw reductions in chlamydia and gonorrhea rates. Despite having some of the nation’s highest chlamydia and gonorrhea rates, both infections experienced a decline in the state. Chlamydia cases edged down from 603.3 to 603.1 cases per 100,000 people, maintaining the state’s seventh-highest national rank. Gonorrhea cases saw a more notable drop from 271.2 to 249.7 cases per 100,000 people, moving North Carolina down to the eighth-highest rate nationally.
However, in line with the national trend, primary and secondary syphilis rates increased in North Carolina from 17.7 to 23.1 cases per 100,000 people. This shift bumped the state up two spots to the 15th-worst rate nationally.
Emphasizing the significance of prevention and testing, the CDC stresses that early detection and proper treatment can effectively address chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. With the surge in syphilis cases, the CDC underscores the need for urgent innovation and collaboration in sexually transmitted infection prevention efforts.
Committing to a thorough examination of the data, the CDC looks to 2023 for a more comprehensive understanding of the situation. The report signals a call for intensified public health efforts and strengthened prevention strategies to combat the escalating syphilis epidemic.