New York: The Syphilis State?

A huge spike in syphilis cases in New York has caused a growing concern amongst physicians. Statistics indicate that in some areas of New York syphilis is up as much as 50% from last year due to an unprecedented amount of unprotected casual sexual encounters by New York residents.

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For example, in Onoganda County, which is where the city of Syracuse is located, the number of reported syphilis cases has literally doubled since last year. The New York Health Department also reports that numbers outside of New York City limits, in the more rural areas, has gone up a full 30% this year. In addition to the outer boroughs, the numbers inside Manhattan are steadily growing as well. Surprisingly, while this sudden rise in syphilis is quite worrisome and prominent, the amount of other reported STDs in New York, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, has actually gone down this year.

Syphilis can be transmitted through oral, vaginal and anal sex. This STD is particularly dangerous because it is often dismissed as being a mild rash by the people who are carrying this potentially deadly bacteria. This can delay treatment and which in turn can cause soft tissue damage, heart failure and blindness. When tested and treated in a timely manner, syphilis can be cured by taking penicillin.

Over 70% of these new syphilis patients have been men over the age of 30 who have unprotected sex with other men. As a part of the questionnaire filled out by patients who tested positive for syphilis in New York this year, there was an increase in the amount of people who used phone apps and online dating services for casual hook-ups. This is why is it so important to protect yourself and your partner, even if you only see them one time, no matter whether it is was a result of meeting through an app or dating service, or not.

The best way to stay protected against syphilis is to consistently and correctly use condoms during all sexual activities. But, much like herpes, if a syphilis sore is resides outside of the area in which a condom covers, like on the hands, transmission is still possible even with the use of a condom. The CDC recommends using a condom in conjunction with having a monogamous partner in order to reduce the chances of spreading or contracting syphilis.

But, here at Condom Depot, we know this is not a realistic approach for a lot of people. This is why we advocate so heavily for frequent STD testing and the use of high quality condoms like the Durex Extra Sensitive Ribbed or Okamoto 004s during all vaginal and/or anal sex. But, barrier methods need to be used during oral sex as well. To make things fun and safer during oral sex, always use flavored condoms, like the LifeStyles Fun Bumps or flavored dental dams like Lixx for cunnilingus and anilingus. We have a guide available if  you are unsure on ‘How to Use a Dental Dam.’

In an effort to stamp out this alarming rise in syphilis, the Onodaga County Health Department is offering free and confidential STD testing 4 days a week.

 Source: [CDC, Syracuse.com]

About Condom Depot

The Condom Depot Learning Center provides free safer sex ed and has recently been resourced by Men’s Health, Go Ask Alice, Her Campus, LifeHacker, Scarleteen, Bustle, Madame Noire, Jezebel, Vice, Stallion Style, aPlus, Sex Talk Tuesday and Adult Sex Ed Month.

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