Wake County Syphilis Uptick Mostly Impacts HIV Positive Men

Mar 28, 2016

Wake County reported more than 200 syphilis cases last year. Wake County's Public Health Director Sue Lynn Ledford says that's a big up-tick compared to fewer than 40 cases in 2003. A majority of new cases involve African-American men who are HIV positive.

Ledford says they often seek out other partners who are also HIV positive, but if they don't use condoms, they risk contracting other diseases.

Ledford says condoms can prevent the spread of syphilis, which can exacerbate HIV.

"Syphilis in and of itself is a serious disease, and, you know, it has serious repercussions if it's not treated. but it can be treated with antibiotics, so people need to know to be tested and treated."

James Miller is executive director of the LGBT Center of Raleigh. Miller says many HIV positive community members don't realize they can catch a different strain of HIV, or another disease like syphilis.

"Especially in the time of the Internet, I think you see a lot of freedom being given to a community, and we really need to be amping up that education to keep up with all the other pieces moving forward," says Miller.

Miller says the center is advertising on queer hook-up sites like Grindr and Scruff to let users know where and when they can visit local health clinics for testing and condoms.