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Arizona Gays Face Growing Number Of Syphilis Cases

Posted by pozlife on December 29, 2007

122707s
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: December 27, 2007 – 4:00 pm ET

(Phoenix, Arizona) Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano has approved a $100,000 campaign to urge gay men to get tested for syphilis after state health officials warned the disease is reaching crisis proportions.

"The gay community, especially in Maricopa County, is where the bulk of the epidemic is now," Wil Humble, the state’s assistant director of public health, told Capitol Media Services.

Maricopa County, which includes the city of Phoenix, is one of the worst hit said Humble. The number of cases for the first six months of 2007 was 25 times higher than it was seven years earlier he said.

The majority of the cases was among men who have sex with men.

The money for the ad campaign targeting gay men will come from the state’s Health Crisis Fund. Most of the money will be spent on brochures that will be placed in gay bars and clubs throughout the state.

Untreated syphilis can have devastating health consequences, including impairment of the ability to walk, permanent vision loss, permanent hearing loss, and brain damage.

The disease is treatable with antibiotics.

"Unless they know they’re infected, they don’t go in and get treatment," Humble told Capitol Media. "That means spoon feeding them the locations for clinics where they could get screened and treated."

Because syphilis is associated with unprotected sex it is regarded as an early indicator of a likely rise in HIV cases/

Nationally the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last month there has been a marked increase in syphilis and other STDs.

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