Syphilis Rate Rises in United States for First Time in Decade
Though the rate of syphilis cases declined in some of the populations most affected by the infection, including African-Americans and residents of the South, the overall rate of syphilis in the US has increased by 2 percent between 2000 and 2001, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. The biggest increase of cases of syphilis was among men, particularly gay and bisexual men, according to the CDC. This new development raises concerns of a subsequent increase in the HIV/AIDS infection rate. Persons infected with syphilis are two to five times more likely to contract HIV, and the increased numbers of gay and bisexual men with syphilis indicates a decline in safe sex practices, the CDC reports.
The CDC notes that social factors such as poverty, racism, and lack of health insurance can place some people at greater risk of contracting syphilis, but the screening test and treatment for syphilis are both very inexpensive and effective. Rates are relatively low in the United States, but worldwide there were an estimated 11.76 million new cases in 1999, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Syphilis is also a concern for pregnant women, as untreated cases of syphilis during pregnancy can lead to stillbirth and neonatal or congenital syphilis in babies, according to the WHO. Though latex condoms do not fully protect against syphilis, which is transmitted through sores that can extend beyond the coverage of condoms, the CDC calls regular condom use a “good defense” against the disease, and condom use has been shown to significantly reduce the chances of contracting HIV. The WHO recently released a report outlining major health risks worldwide, and the number two health risk was unsafe sex, with lack of condom use listed as one of the highest-risk sex practices.
However, the Bush Administration has been downplaying the benefits of condom use, going so far as to remove fact sheets about the effectiveness of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy from the CDC website. In addition, the Administration has supported huge funding increases for abstinence-only sex education in high schools, which are required to only discuss condoms in terms of their failure rates. In addition, the US has significantly decreased the number of condoms it distributes to the developing world, from 800 million in 1990 to only 360 million in 2000. Though the need for condoms in developing countries and Eastern Europe has been estimated to be 8 billion annually just to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS, less than one billion condoms are supplied by donor countries. The Bush Administration made matters worse by refusing to disburse $34 million appropriated by Congress to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which is the one of the largest sources of condoms for developing countries. The UNFPA also conducts programs on increasing the reach and quality of prenatal care in the developing nations, including diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .