As syphilis cases continue to rise across the United States, a new analysis from researchers at the Coalition for Applied Modeling for Prevention (CAMP) offers further insight into racial and ethnic disparities in syphilis rates among heterosexually active women, featuring a new approach to analyzing disease impact.
The findings, published in the February issue of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, found that on a national level, annual rates were 6.42 and 2.20 times as high among Black and Hispanic than among White heterosexually active women (10.99, 3.77, and 1.71 per 100,000, respectively). Younger women experienced a disproportionate burden of primary and secondary syphilis and the highest disparities. Regionally, the Northeast had the highest Black-White and Hispanic-White disparities using a relative disparity measure (relative rate) and the West had the highest disparities using an absolute disparity measure (rate difference).
The study, led by Erika Martin, associate professor at Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy and a member of the School of Public Health’s Center for Collaborative HIV Research in Practice and Policy was conducted by CAMP with the goal of developing more refined measures of morbidity and disparities. Such information is important to develop targeted prevention and care interventions to reduce the negative outcomes of infection and reduce the risk of congenital syphilis.
The study was co-authored by Bahareh Ansari, doctoral student in Information Science, and researchers at the New York State Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Emory University.
The study found that in order to meet the racial and ethnic disparities goals of the Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) National Strategic Plan, tailored local interventions that address the social and structural factors associated with disparities are needed for different age groups.
“The STI National Strategic Plan has an important goal of improving health equity,” continued Martin. “These findings highlight the importance of treating and preventing syphilis among young Black women in particular, and that prevention interventions may need to be tailored to age groups and local contexts.”
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