syphilis, msm, infectious disease, std
Medicine and Health Sciences | Nursing | Public Health Education and Promotion
Syphilis rates in the United States hit their nadir in the 1960’s and 1970’s with almost complete disappearance during the 1980’s in conjunction with the onset of the human immunodeficiency virus outbreak (Read et al, 2015). This dramatic fall was a direct consequence of the introduction of penicillin in the 1940’s, but since this decline a widely documented reemergence in endemic levels has been seen across the country (Petrosky et al, 2016). Recent rates in men have jumped from 3 per 100,000 to 9.8 per 100,000 (Petrosky et al, 2016) in a two year span, an alarming increase, which has alerted public health officials across the United States to investigate the trends. One prevalence factor was sexual habits, the most common of which was men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM individuals accounted for 61% of all primary and secondary syphilis diagnoses in 2014 (Cantor et al, 2016). “Syphilis is a chronic, systemic, infectious disease caused by sexual or vertical transmission of the bacterium Treponema palladium” (Cantor et al, 2016). Testing, education and public knowledge surrounding syphilis had not been a common theme in health curriculum and primary care prior to the reemergence in the early 2000’s. Known as “The Great Pretender,” syphilis can present as a common mucosal lesion without subjective knowledge and can progress to a systemic rash sometimes associated with dermatologic causation (Clement et al, 2014). Early detection and treatment is key and syphilis is easily treated upon diagnosis and staging with a correlating dose of commonly accessible antibiotics. If undetected, up to two thirds of individuals progress to a late stage of disease which greatly increases the risks of irreversible cardiac and nervous system damage (Clement et al, 2014). It is important to understand the pathophysiology and epidemiology of syphilis to appropriately educate and prevent future infections within the public and most importantly, high risk populations.
Helser, Nathaniel, "Syphilis in Men that have Sex with Men" (2017). Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Student Scholarship. 217.