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DOH-Duval Encourages Prevention and Testing for Syphilis During STD Awareness Month

April 13, 2017

Contact:
Heidi Moore
CHD16MediaRequests@flhealth.gov

904-253-1010

Jacksonville, Fla. –The Florida Department of Health in Duval joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in recognizing April as STD Awareness Month. Throughout the month, DOH-Duval will be hosting and participating in screening and education events to raise STD awareness. STD Awareness Month is especially important this year as syphilis, which was at one point nearly eliminated, has made a resurgence. The current number and rate of syphilis cases is higher than it has been in more than 20 years in the United States.

“Unfortunately, syphilis is on the rise in Duval County also,” said Dr. Kelli Wells, Director of DOH-Duval. “In an effort to address this problem, DOH-Duval has created a Syphilis Elimination Work Group with the goal of reducing the incidence and transmission of infectious syphilis in Duval County.  The public benefits of this effort are significant: improved infant health; reduced health disparities, and improved collaborative public health infrastructure.”

With the recent rise in syphilis infections, it is a renewed health threat for anyone who is sexually active. To prevent the spread of all STDs, including syphilis, DOH-Duval provides screening, counseling, treatment and partner notification services to persons infected with or suspected of being infected with STDs.

Syphilis infection rates have spiked in all regions of the country and across almost every ethnicity and age group. Some populations, such as gay, bisexual, other men who have sex with men, and women are seeing higher increases than other groups. Cases of congenital syphilis (babies born with syphilis) are also increasing at an alarming rate. Having syphilis also makes it easier to get HIV and Hepatitis C.

The only way to avoid syphilis and other STDs is to not have sex. However, if you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of infection:

  • Be in a long-term, monogamous relationship with a partner who has tested negative for syphilis and other STDs;
  • Use condoms the right way every time you have sex;
  • Talk to your health care provider about getting tested for syphilis and other STDs or locate a clinic near you for free, fast and confidential testing;
  • If you test positive for syphilis or other STDs, get treated right away and be sure your sexual partner is treated as well to reduce the risk of re-infection.

Please join DOH-Duval at a STD Awareness Month event:

Friday April 14th from 4:00pm – 8:00pm: National Youth HIV Testing Awareness Day "Backyard Block Party" (Food Truck Rally).  In partnership with JASMYN, DOH-Duval and community organizations will provide fun activities, information about services, and an assortment of vendors.  923 Peninsular Place, Jacksonville, FL 32204.

For more information on STD Awareness Month, visit the CDC’s webpage. To learn more about the department’s STD program and services, click here

About the Florida Department of Health 

The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

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