In the United States, over 32,000 cases of syphilis were reported in 2002. The number of cases has risen, from 5,979 in 2000 to 7,352 in 2004; there was also a dramatic increase of cases in homosexual men. Statistics on syphilis also show that rates of the disease in women continue to decrease. Overall, the rate in men is 3.5 times that seen in women.
Syphilis is a disease of ancient times that is still of major importance in modern times.
Although primary and secondary syphilis in the United States declined by almost 90 percent from 1990 to 2000, the number of cases rose from 5,979 in 2000 to 7,352 in 2004. There was a dramatic increase in cases in men from 2000 to 2002 that reflects syphilis in men who have sex with other men.
In the United States, health officials reported over 32,000 cases of syphilis in 2002, including 6,862 cases of primary and secondary syphilis. In 2002, half of all syphilis cases were reported from 16 counties and 1 city; most syphilis cases occurred in people 20 to 39 years of age.
Between 2001 and 2002, the number of reported syphilis cases increased 12.4 percent. Rates in women continued to decrease. Overall, the rate in men was 3.5 times that of women.
The incidence of infectious syphilis was highest in women 20 to 24 years of age and in men 35 to 39 years of age. Reported cases of congenital syphilis in newborns decreased from 2001 to 2002, with 492 new cases reported in 2001 compared to 412 cases in 2002.
Over the past several years, increases in syphilis among men having sex with other men have been reported in various cities and areas, including Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Southern California, Miami, and New York City. In the recent outbreaks, high rates of HIV co-infection were documented, ranging from 20 percent to 70 percent. While the health problems caused by syphilis in adults are serious in their own right, it is unknown whether the genital sores caused by syphilis in adults also make it easier to transmit and acquire HIV infection sexually (see Syphilis and HIV).