Lubbock Witnesses 300% Increase in Syphilis Cases | News
The city of Lubbock is currently experiencing an increase in syphilis cases with a 300% increase in cases since 2020 according to health authorities.
Marina Driver, founder and president of the Lubbock Public Health Initiative, said the rise in cases may be contributing to increased testing.
Syphilis infection is transmitted through sexual contact, Driver said, the sexually transmitted disease causes symptoms ranging from rashes and sores to more serious symptoms such as neurological damage. Syphilis is treated with antibiotics which easily cure the infection. However, treating late-stage syphilis might not reverse more severe damage caused by the infection.
“I would say syphilis is kind of the same as a lot of other diseases that have receded, or like a backseat for COVID just because most public health resources have gone to COVID testing and COVID treatment,” he said. said Driver. “Since there are not such limited people working in the public health service, there is not much they can do. With COVID being more manageable, STI testing has come back more and more and it’s become more accessible again, and personally I think that’s why we’re seeing higher numbers just because testing was a lot lower in recent years.
Generating conversations about sexual health and encouraging regular testing are important steps to curbing the spread of STDs, Driver said. Awareness enables people to avoid spreading the virus and to seek appropriate treatment.
“I would say the first thing is just to be aware of the testing centers in Lubbock,” Driver said. “We have the student health center, they do tests there. I know the Lubbock community or health department, they do STI testing, and it’s like a 10 disease panel on that and it’s only $20, so it’s pretty affordable. And you get your results in days. So more frequent testing, and then also just more awareness of the signs and symptoms of disease. A lot of people they like sometimes like the bumps I’m talking about. They’re so small you don’t notice them, and not all of them are painful. So being more aware of your body and bodily changes that way you know like you need to get tested.
TTU Student Health Services and the Lubbock Department of Health offer STI testing during business hours by appointment.
Rebecca Salas, a third-year human development and family studies student from San Antonio, is on a pre-medical path to becoming an obstetrician-gynecologist. Salas said the rise in syphilis cases is due to the lack of proper sexual health education in the community.
“With the recent syphilis outbreak in our area, I think that’s a direct representation of the lack of proper sex education,” Salas said. “I believe this epidemic shows exactly what teaching pure abstinence does to a community.”
Salas said contraceptives and awareness of partners’ sexual history are preventative measures to avoid contracting or spreading syphilis.
“The only 100 percent way to avoid getting syphilis is to abstain from sex,” Salas said. “The next best option would be a monogamous relationship with two clean partners. If you’re looking to have sex with someone new, avoid vaginal and anal sex with new partners until you’ve both been tested. for STIs Condoms and dental dams used regularly and correctly will also prevent you from getting syphilis.
The importance of sexual health is vital to the community, Salas said. Avoiding misinformation around sex education keeps people informed and protected.
“As a community, I believe it’s important to inform and correct any misconceptions about sexual health,” Salas said. “It’s time to end the stigma of STDs and STIs and start the conversation about how to prevent and treat these conditions for your health and the health of those around you.”