Customizable Article - #SyphilisStrikesBack

Instructions For Customizable Article

The pre-written article below can be adapted and used by health departments, community-based organizations, journalists, bloggers, media, or others looking to spread the word about STD prevention to groups such as your partners, local decision makers, or the general public.

How can I use this article? The article can be shared on listservs, online, in newspapers, magazines, blogs, or newsletters. It is customizable – you can use data from your state or county to make it more meaningful to the people in your community.* You can customize this article further by adding an optional quote from someone, such as a spokesperson, health official, or a member of your organization’s leadership. A placeholder in the text indicates where a quote could be inserted.

Where can I find STD data to customize the article? Reported data for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis can be accessed by contacting your state or local health department, browsing CDC’s STD Surveillance Report tables, or using CDC’s AtlasPlus (a tool that allows you to access state and county level data for these and other reportable diseases). If you need national data to fit your needs, please refer to the STD Surveillance Report tables or national “State of STDs” infographicCdc-pdf.

*CDC includes cases of primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis when referenced within these articles. P&S syphilis are the most infectious stages of the disease and therefore are helpful for understanding syphilis trends across the country. Using local P&S syphilis data is encouraged for the fairest comparison with what is happening nationally.

The customizable article begins below.

Syphilis Rebounds in US and <insert jurisdiction>


Once on the brink of elimination, syphilis cases reached a 24-year high in the United States in 2017. More than 30,000 cases of the sexually transmitted disease (STD) were reported nationally that year—a nearly 11% jump since 2016. In <insert jurisdiction> alone, there were xx cases of syphilis in 2017, up from xx in 2016 [include phrase only if cases have increased in local jurisdiction]. Clearly, syphilis is a renewed health threat for many.

“We know that fighting syphilis is challenging – and that decades of progress have come with a price,” said Gail Bolan, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention. “Fewer healthcare providers are familiar with it, and too many Americans believe it’s a disease of the past. Stigma also remains within communities and the healthcare system.”

While all STDs are serious and need to be treated, syphilis is especially dangerous. Without treatment, it can cause severe health problems affecting the brain, eyes, heart, and other organs. Having syphilis also makes it easier to get HIV.

Syphilis Gains Ground in New Communities, Tightens Grip on Others

During 2016-2017, national syphilis rates spiked among men, women, newborns; a majority of age groups; all races and ethnicities; and in almost every region.

Its grasp is stronger and impact deeper for some groups in the US—despite its pervasive return in all populations across the country. Nationally, the number and rate of babies born with syphilis continues to surge. Men, and especially gay and bisexual men, remain hardest-hit—with data suggesting about half of gay and bisexual men with syphilis are also living with HIV.

Trends in <insert jurisdiction> are similarly alarming, with <insert most affected groups> experiencing increased rates of syphilis.

[“Insert OPTIONAL Quote from health official, spokesperson, or other organizational leadership,” said [enter name, title, organization. “Insert second part of quote as indicated/appropriate.”]

While syphilis may affect some groups more than others, its increase across all demographics nationally is a concerning shift that needs attention. It means this STD has the ability to affect many communities at anytime and anywhere. It means people from all walks of life—including those who think they have slim-to-zero chances of becoming infected—may be at risk. And bottom line, it means practicing prevention is a must for everyone.

Together, We Can Disrupt Syphilis

The good news is that there are a number of ways to prevent syphilis and other STDs. The most reliable way is to not have sex (vaginal, oral, or anal), but there are many other tried-and-true options: talking openly with partnersExternal and healthcare providersExternal about STDs, testing, and sexual health; using condoms the right way from start to finish; and reducing your number of sexual partners. Those who test positive for syphilis should get treated right away – and be sure their partner is also treated to lower the risk of getting infected again.

CDC also has information on how healthcare providers can reduce congenital syphilis and syphilis among gay and bisexual men.

This and other helpful information is available through Syphilis Strikes Back, a campaign devoted exclusively to promoting the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of syphilis. It seeks to raise awareness, help healthcare providers protect their patients, and empower individuals to take charge of their health.