Chicago has been and continues to be one of the areas with the largest number of infectious syphilis cases in the United States. In the past twenty years, primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis has decreased dramatically in Chicago, from 2,168 cases of P&S syphilis in 1992 to the all time low of 267 in 2003. Syphilis cases rose in both 2004 and 2005, but showed a decrease for 2006 of 29%.
Most of the cases are male with the majority identifying as men having sex with men (MSM). Chicago has an overall P&S syphilis cases and 19 babies were presumptively diagnosed with congenital syphilis in 2010.
There continues to be a high rate of HIV-syphilis co-infection especially among MSM. Chicago has an overall co-infection rate of 34%, but this number is deceiving. The percentage co-infection for women is 3% and heterosexual men is 14%; whereas, the percentage for MSM is 57% (340/602. This points out the need for HIV testing on all syphilis cases and for those who are HIV positive to heave regular syphilis tests.
If you're sexually active, make syphilis testing part of your routine.