New campaign targets syphilis epidemic in Oregon - KPTV - FOX 12

New campaign targets syphilis epidemic in Oregon

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Oregon health officials say we’re facing a new epidemic of syphilis with cases increasing by 1,500% in the last eight years. 

In response, the Oregon Health Authority is launching a campaign called “Syph Aware”, posting billboards on TriMet and at various locations around the state to warn the public. 

Experts say syphilis is a sexually transmitted, bacterial disease and can be virtually painless. But left untreated, it can infect the brain and spinal cord, causing permanent damage. 

STD expert Kim Toevs with the Multnomah County Health Department says the biggest influx in the disease is among gay and bisexual men. She believes it’s because treatments for AIDS have come so far.
“Gay and bisexual men have historically been concerned with HIV transmission. The treatment is very effective now and one of the things it’s effective at is making it so you can’t give HIV to somebody else if you are on successful treatment. So as people have been less concerned with transmitting HIV, I think there’s been a decrease in condom use.”

The good news is that syphilis is easily treatable with antibiotics and detected with a simple blood test. Toevs suggests asking your doctor for the test once a year.

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