Chelsea's Syphilis Infection Rate Is 6 Times Citywide Average, City Finds

Rosa Goldensohn
Original Article:

CHELSEA — Syphilis rates in Chelsea have climbed to more than six times the city’s average infection rate amid a citywide uptick that has continued to grow for more than a decade, the city’s health department warned.

The health department recorded 138 new reported cases in Chelsea in 2013 — an infection rate of 93.3 cases per 100,000 people, far higher than the city’s average 14 cases per 100,000.

In addition, Chelsea’s infection rate was higher than any city in the nation — including San Francisco, which had a rate of 60 cases per 100,000 people in 2013, according to CDC statistics. Rates for neighborhoods within cities across the nation were not immediately available.

The increase came amid a rise in citywide infection rates, which rose more than 8 percent last year, according to the Department of Health’s annual report. There were 628 cases of syphilis infections reported in NYC in the first half of 2014, as compared to 585 in the same period the year before. The DOH has not released the full 2014 numbers.

“In NYC, the vast majority of syphilis cases are among men, specifically men who have sex with men,”  the DOH said in a statement, blaming a widespread failure to use condoms. “The increasing syphilis incidence is driven by unprotected sex.”

Anthony Hayes of AIDS service organization GMHC said that because syphilis is difficult to detect early on, the disease spreads rapidly.

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