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Contempo Updates | Clinician's Corner

Update on Syphilis:  Resurgence of an Old Problem

Matthew R. Golden, MD, MPH; Christina M. Marra, MD; King K. Holmes, MD, PhD
JAMA. 2003;290(11):1510-1514. doi:10.1001/jama.290.11.1510.
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In 1937 US Surgeon General Thomas Parran estimated that 10% of Americans would be infected with syphilis during their lives.1 Rates of primary and secondary syphilis plummeted with the institution of public health control measures and the advent of penicillin, reaching a nadir in 2000. Since then, rates have continued to decline among women and infants, although overall rates again have begun to climb.2

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Figure. Natural History of Untreated Syphilis in Immunocompetent Individuals
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Percentages of individuals developing specific stages of syphilis and time intervals are approximations based on information in references 9-11.

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