Since 2000, Broward County has seen a 400 percent increase in reported syphilis cases.
Early last week, 22 000 Broward County residents received an informational mailer from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest AIDS organization in the United States, regarding the shocking rates of syphilis within the south Florida county. The postal distribution resulted in a dramatic increase in patients seeking free testing and treatment at AHF's new local STD clinic, as well as a letter issued by the local Health Department to providers about how to help combat the spread of the sexually-transmitted disease.
"While Broward County has the highest rate of syphilis in the state of Florida, the good news is that syphilis is a curable disease, one best caught and treated early," said Albert Ruiz, Director, Public Health Division for AHF and who oversees AHF's Wellness Programs. "We encourage any sexually active individual who feels that they may be at risk to come in and get tested, and if necessary, treated."
The Florida Department of Health in Broward County's notice to providers highlighted the need for a stepped-up response by declaring 613 new cases of syphilis reported to the department's Broward County office in 2012, 15 of which were congenital syphilis infections passed from mother to child. This information is in line with the concerning statistics presented in the AHF mailer, which include the fact that syphilis cases reported in Broward County have increased by 400 percent since 2000.
Within the 1st 10 days of the mailer's receipt, 6 new clients went to the newly opened AHF Broward Wellness Center seeking syphilis screenings and, if needed, treatment. The new Broward Wellness Center opened for free testing and treatment for HIV, syphilis, Chlamydia, and gonorrhea on 3 Sep 2013.