According to MDH (Minnesota Department of Health) data shows that there has been an alarming increase of women in Minnesota getting the STI, syphilis. Data shows a 70% increase of cases affecting women from 2014 to 2015. The STI is affecting women around child-bearing age in all ethnic backgrounds, including pregnant women. Although there are higher rates among African American women and Native American women. “Minnesota has not seen this many reported cases of syphilis in women in more than 20 years,” said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota Commissioner of Health. Eighty-seven percent of all female syphilis cases in 2015 were concentrated in the Twin Cities metropolitan area and 13 percent in Greater Minnesota (MDH).
There are multiple factors contributing to the rise in syphilis outbreak in Minnesota. Largely this disparity is seen among people with socioeconomic, education, and health disadvantages. This highlights the greater need for STI education and further access to free STI testing. Syphilis can affect anyone who is sexually active and the only way to prevent STI is to abstain from vaginal, anal, and oral sex all together. Syphilis is spread through contact and the infection is housed in the vagina, penis, anus, rectum, in the mouth and on lips. Syphilis has a secondary, latent, and late phase which has serious complications. Syphilis can be transmitted to an infant during childbirth, but the most common way is through vaginal, oral, and anal sex. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, there are a a number of ways to prevent syphilis infection.
- Limit the number of sexual partners
- Always use protection-condoms are the only form that can prevent sexually transmitted infections.
- Make sure to know your partner and have discuss the risks of STI’s.
- Eliminate risk factors like sharing needles for tattooing and ear piercing.
- Undergo STI testing when there is a change in your sexual behavior, and discuss this with your partner.
- Educate yourself on STIs-symptoms, what to look for including: a painless sore confused for an ingrown hair, zipper cut, or other harmless bump. The second phase is an itchy body rash that develops on the palms of hands and on feet, or can cover the body diffusely or in an isolated few places. Many people infected with syphilis have very mild or no symptoms at all.
- Know your body-if something doesn’t feel right or you notice something, stop in to the Health and Wellness Clinic for more information regarding testing and treatment. They are able to point you to more resources at low or no cost at all.