- In the face of rising syphilis infections, a federal panel has reaffirmed its 2004 recommendations on who should be screened for the disease, Reuters reported.
- According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, physicians should offer testing for the sexually transmitted diseases for people living with HIV, men who have sex with men and other individuals at heightened risk of acquiring syphilis.
- Between 2005 and 2014, the number of new syphilis cases in the U.S. grew from 5,979 to nearly 20,000.
According to the task force, the majority of syphilis cases are in men who have sex with men, though people with HIV, young men and individuals in certain locales and minority groups also are at risk. However, USPSTF did not say how often people in these high-risk groups should be tested. Some studies have suggested screening as often as every three months, while others suggest yearly testing.
The recommendation complements a 2009 recommendation that all pregnant women be screened for syphilis. A draft version was released for public comment last December.
“Clinicians play an important role in helping to control the rising rates of syphilis infection and should focus on screening those at increased risk,” task force member Ann E. Kurth said in a statement.
Testing requires two positive results. The preferred treatment is penicillin G benzathine, an effective and relatively cheap drug,
The task force published the recommended screening guidelines on its website and in JAMA.