Despite state-wide efforts to combat the rise of sexually transmitted diseases, syphilis is on the rise in California.
A new report from the California Department of Public Health shows early syphilis morbidity rates increased between 2011 and 2012. The update, released January 31, shows a jump of over 25 percent in new syphilis cases in San Francisco alone.
The Department noted the challenges of battling syphilis, specifically. The disease has a multi-week incubation period and the symptoms are often painless, meaning those infected might not realize they have contracted it.
According to SF Weekly, new cases are occurring in higher numbers among homosexual men and transgender persons, but the cause of this increase is not easy to pinpoint.
The number of cases amongst partners who meet on the Internet is also on the rise, but as SF Weekly noted, this data might not be especially revealing, considering the growing popularity of online dating sites.
In December, San Francisco announced an increased effort to bring safe sex to the city. The Department of Public Health proposed a $200,000 to $400,000 investment in the distribution of condoms and lubrication materials citywide.
"The CDC [Center for Disease Control] recently released a report that listed condom distribution as one of its top four priorities for disease prevention," Tracey Packer, acting director of HIV Prevention at the Department of Public Health told The Huffington Post in November. "We want to make sure San Francisco gets the condoms it needs."
Some officials say it is time to form new strategies when it comes to syphilis.
"We can't keep doing the same things we've always done and wonder why things aren't improving," STD Prevention and Control Services Director Susan Philips told San Francisco Weekly. "We're taking a new holistic approach that looks at the entire person. It's a brave new world."
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LA County recently crowned one user-submitted design its official condom wrapper. Click through the slideshow to see the runners-up and the grand prize winner: