A recent report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established a connection between drug use and high rates of syphilis in the United States. Sarah Kidd, lead author of the report, noted that two major health problems, namely addiction and syphilis, seemed to collide with each other.

The report showed a connection between drug use and syphilis cases in heterosexual men and women. According to the report, the use of heroin, methamphetamine and other injection drugs by the aforementioned group almost doubled between 2013 and 2017.

However, the report did not show a similar increase in drug abuse in gay men with syphilis. According to the researchers, the study results indicated that risky sexual behaviors associated with drug abuse may be one of the key factors driving this increase in syphilis among the heterosexual population.

People who use drugs are more likely to engage in risky sexual activities

According to experts, people who abuse drugs are more likely to engage in dangerous sexual activities, which makes them more susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Syphilis increased significantly among heterosexuals, especially during the “crack cocaine epidemic” that prevailed during the 1980s and 1990s. It was noted that during this particular time period, drug use was associated with the highest rates of syphilis transmission.

According to Patricia Kissinger, a professor of epidemiology at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, it’s common for drug abusers to have unprotected sex, exchange sex instead of money or drugs, and have multiple partners. sexual. All of these are considered significant risk factors that contribute to the spread of the disease.

Syphilis rates are setting new records

Nationwide, syphilis cases increased by about 73% overall and 156% for female patients between 2013 and 2017. While syphilis had been nearly eradicated, lately, the biggest resurgence of the disease was registered in California, Louisiana and Nevada. Syphilis can be treated with antibiotics, but if left untreated, it can cause organ damage and even death in some cases. In women, congenital syphilis usually occurs when a mother passes the disease to her unborn baby, leading to cases of premature birth and newborn deaths.

Analyzing syphilis cases that occurred between 2013 and 2017, the researchers found that methamphetamine abuse was the biggest contributor. The report revealed that more than a third of women and a quarter of heterosexual men with syphilis abused methamphetamine in the past year. The California Department of Public Health reported that methamphetamine use by people with syphilis doubled for heterosexual men and women between 2013 and 2017.

Why is it difficult to treat sexually transmitted infections?

Due to overlapping cases of substance abuse and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), it becomes challenging to identify and treat people with syphilis. This is because people who use drugs are generally less likely to visit a doctor or report their sexual activities or their partners.

Similarly, pregnant women may refrain from seeking prenatal care and being tested for syphilis due to concerns such as their gynecologists reporting their drug abuse. To combat this problem, CDC urges greater collaboration between programs that treat substance abuse and programs that address STIs.

Fresno County reported the highest rate of congenital syphilis

According to the report, the highest rate of congenital syphilis was recorded in Fresno County in California. County Community Health Division Manager Joe Prado said the California Department of Health tested about 25 cases of congenital syphilis in 2017 and more than two-thirds of these women were drug abusers.

To address this problem, the country took proactive steps, such as offering STD testing for patients admitted to inpatient drug treatment centers. Patients who returned for reports were provided with incentives, including gift cards. Apart from this, for patients in drug treatment, the county offered a care package that includes contraceptives and educational materials on STIs.

challenges faced

While it is important to have greater collaboration between STD clinics and drug treatment providers, it is not always that simple, as these two entities have not worked together before. Generally, these two units tend to focus only on their relevant specialties and often do not screen people for associated ailments such as syphilis or other forms of STIs or drug abuse.

According to Jeffrey Kalusner, a professor of medicine and public health at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), more resources are needed to combat rising rates of syphilis. He added that although policies for syphilis testing can be implemented, these policies must be accompanied by appropriate resources.

Seeking drug abuse treatment

Drug abuse is often associated with the development of physical illnesses such as hepatitis C, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), syphilis, and other STDs. These infections can be serious and cause a rapid decline in overall health. The best way to avoid contracting these diseases is to avoid taking drugs or, if you are addicted, to seek help in addiction treatment as soon as possible.

Hillside Mission Drug Rehab Centers offer comprehensive, evidence-based treatment plans for substance abuse. Whether you select an inpatient, outpatient, or residential plan, the detoxification process at Hillside Mission is designed to minimize patient discomfort and result in a shorter treatment cycle.

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