Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announces the unveiling of a new syphilis webpage, including a data dashboard tracking the number of reported syphilis cases, to help bring attention to the rising number of cases in Virginia.
Reported total early syphilis (TES) cases in Virginia increased 14% from 2018 to 2022. To date in 2023, syphilis case reports are 21% higher than for the equivalent period in 2022. Most TES cases are diagnosed among men (84% in 2022); however, cases among women are on the rise (70% increase from 2018-2022). Syphilis diagnoses among persons who misuse substances (such as opioids, methamphetamine, and cocaine) are also increasing. Cases of congenital syphilis, which occurs when a mother with syphilis passes the infection on to her baby during pregnancy, have similarly increased dramatically in the last decade. National data show comparable trends.
The new syphilis webpage summarizes important information about syphilis infections, including common symptoms, risk factors, testing and treatment recommendations. Virginians can use this information to better protect themselves and their communities from syphilis. Additional resources specifically for healthcare providers are also available. Provider resources are designed to assist with identifying, staging, treating, reporting, and preventing syphilis.
For more information on sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing, visit the VDH testing page. For testing or other health services, consult your local health department. For specific questions about STDs or testing locations, you may call the Virginia Disease Prevention Hotline at (800) 533-4148.
The syphilis data dashboard includes up-to-date information on annual and monthly TES case counts by patient residence and demographics. Cases are reported by the local health district of the patient’s residence at diagnosis with standard VDH data suppression rules in place to protect patient privacy. Data on congenital syphilis diagnoses are also presented by year and health region. The dashboard data will be updated weekly on Tuesdays.
The public may learn more about syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases at the VDH website for STDs.