THE GUARDIAN – Health advocates are calling on the Biden administration to declare a public health emergency over a steep rise in congenital syphilis cases.
The easily treated infection has quintupled in 10 years and can have harrowing impacts on children.
Congenital syphilis happens when a baby contracts syphilis from its mother. Up to 40% of babies born to untreated mothers will be stillborn or die.
Others can be left with severe birth defects such as bone damage, anemia, blindness or deafness, and “neurological devastation”.
“There is not a single baby that should be born in the US with syphilis,” David Harvey, the executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, told the Guardian.
“We will be judged very severely as a country and a society for allowing this to happen to babies, when it is so easy to diagnose, treat and prevent this disease.”
Rates of the disease have reached a nearly 30-year high just as supplies of the preferred medication, called Bicillin L-A, are in short supply. Syphilis can be cured with between one and three shots of the medication.
Pfizer is the only manufacturer of the medication, a form of the first antibiotic ever synthesized, penicillin. The company said it does not expect shortages to be resolved before 2024, and blamed low supply partly on the increase in syphilis cases.
That has led public health leaders to make the “uncomfortable” choice to direct the medication almost exclusively to pregnant patients.
HOMOSEXUALS CAUSING PENICILLIN SHORTAGE
Bicillin L-A is the only drug known to safely treat syphilis in pregnancy, and is so critical to treatment of the pregnant person and fetus that even people with penicillin allergies will receive the drug after being sensitized to it by an allergist.
Problematically, it also means others must rely on doxycycline, an antibiotic that must be taken twice daily for at least 14 days, a schedule some patients will struggle to adhere to.
Men who have sex with men are more likely to be diagnosed with syphilis. As a result, the Bicillin shortage is most likely to hit the LGBTQ+ community hardest.
“This is a direct reflection of an ailing public health system,” said Harvey. “We have the highest sexually transmitted infection rates in the western industrialized world, and it is a crisis in the US … ” READ MORE.
How can STIs/STDs be prevented?
Urology Care Foundation – The only way to avoid a STI or STD is to have no sexual contact with an infected person. Other protections include:
- Using a condom correctly, and always with sex
Having a sexual relationship with only one, long-term partner who has no infections [EMPHASIS ADDED BY HEADLINE HEALTH]
- Limiting the number of sexual partners you have
- Using clean needles if you are injecting drugs | SOURCE