Agency officials respond to STD outbreak

This Week Community News
Gary Seaman Jr.
Original Article:

Columbus Public Health officials continue to battle a syphilis outbreak they report has disproportionately affected gay black males.

Health officials say that between January and September of 2014, 210 cases were reported.

Following a national trend in metropolitan areas, the majority of cases in Franklin County continue to be men who have sex with men.

Of the cases diagnosed in men, 50 percent are reported to be black. Meanwhile, the number of infectious syphilis cases has increased more than 70 percent among African-American males.

As a result of this outbreak, Columbus Public Health is investigating each case to establish any possible links, following up with all contacts of each case so they can be treated and reaching out to central Ohio physicians to be on the lookout for symptoms.

In addition, there will be targeted advertising on the web to specific sub groups affected.

Dr. Jose Bazan, medical director for the sexual health clinic at Columbus Public Health, said early detection is paramount in curing the disease and keeping it from being spread to others.

"The thing about syphilis is it has some classic or very characteristic signs and symptoms, depending on the stage that you’re in," Bazan said.

The first stage involves a painless chancre, or sore, in the genital area, mouth or anus, followed by a diffuse body rash that can include the palms or bottom of the feet.

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