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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 8, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 14
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Letters

THANKS FOR SYPHILIS COVERAGE

Thank you, Seattle Gay News and Sister Glo, for your feature story on syphilis in your March 18 issue. Thanks also to the anonymous letter writer last week who pointed out one of the dire consequences of syphilis when it goes untreated.

Syphilis has made an astounding comeback in our local community - up 82 percent from 2009 to 2010. Nine out of every 10 cases last year were in Gay and Bi men; over half also had HIV. And it's continuing to spread. The 2011 case numbers are double what they were this time last year.

Syphilis is preventable and curable. In fact, it was virtually eliminated in Gay and Bi men in our area in the early 1990s.

Syphilis starts as a painless open sore and then a rash on your torso, palms, or soles of your feet. Left untreated, it can lead to blindness, deafness, heart failure, dementia, or even brain tumors like the one suffered by last week's letter writer. And untreated syphilis can advance more quickly in people who have HIV.

I'll be talking more about syphilis in an upcoming Dr. J column. In the meantime, if you're sexually active and at risk, but have not tested recently, please get tested. You can test for syphilis and other STDs including HIV at Public Health's STD Clinic, Gay City, or your doctor's office. For hours and locations, call 206-296-4649 or go to www.kingcounty.gov/health/hiv.

Dr. Joanne Stekler (aka Dr. J)

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